The Toronto Raptors are in “win now” mode. That was plain for the entire NBA to see in advance of the 2017 trade deadline, with GM Masai Ujiri hitting the market to acquire both Serge Ibaka (from Orlando) and P.J. Tucker (from Phoenix).
While the Raptors did not fully mortgage the future in either trade, both acquisitions required some future investment and that makes the news of Monday afternoon even more brutal.
Kyle Lowry, the team’s All-Star point guard and best player, will be undergoing wrist surgery and, as a result, his playoff future is very much in question. The veteran is averaging 22.8 points (including a career-best 41.7 percent from three) and 6.9 assists per game for the playoff-bound Raptors and, to make matters worse, Toronto’s net rating when he leaves the floor plummets at an awe-inspiring rate.
However, there is a (small) bright spot to focus on, with Adrian Wojnarowski indicating Lowry could be back by the end of the regular season.
At the moment, the Raptors sit in the fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a bit of breathing room over the fifth-place Atlanta Hawks. Still, losing homecourt advantage in the first round would be a huge blow for a team with real aspirations and it will be interesting to see just how quickly Lowry can return to the lineup. The Raptors need him desperately in order to achieve their short-term goals.