Kyle Lowry as Raptors' player-coach? Fans love it, but it was not to be
For the briefest of moments, NBA fans let their imaginations run wild with the idea of Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry taking on a new role: player-coach.
The catalyst came in the lead-up to Friday's home game against the Houston Rockets, as the Raptors announced that six members of their coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, would not be on the bench because of health and safety protocols.
In addition to the coaches, forward Pascal Siakam was ruled out. Raptors general manager Bobby Webster declined to clarify if any coaches had tested positive for COVID-19 or whether Siakam’s situation was related.
The Raptors later announced that assistant coach Sergio Scariolo would serve as head coach Friday. Scariolo was away from the team recently while coaching Spain in the FIBA EuroBasket qualifiers in Poland, according to The Athletic. He has quarantined and tested negative since returning.
But before the team announced that Scariolo was taking over coaching duties, some fans went to the idea (or hope) that Lowry would run the show – perhaps tongue-in-cheek for some and more seriously for others.
What made the idea so entertaining, though, is how believable it is. Not only is Lowry a vocal leader on the floor and a smart floor general, but he also has coaching experience – sort of.
Of course, the situation is more complex than that, and when asked why the team didn't consider giving the role to Lowry, Webster said it’s a labor issue.
"You can’t really pay a player to do anything outside of his contract," he said.
The fact that so many people thought about this idea is a testament to Lowry’s smarts as a basketball player, as well as his leadership. It also reveals something about his value in the NBA and might be leading to the rumors that the Raptors are shopping Lowry ahead of the March 25 trade deadline.
Lowry’s name has come up frequently of late, with reports surfacing that there are some within the Raptors organization who think Lowry should be dealt. This makes sense on some level. While the Raptors are competitive, they don’t appear to be title contenders at around .500, and Lowry’s contract expires at the end of the season.
Plus, a player of his talent would attract potential suitors.
On "First Things First," Nick Wright said Lowry could make the Clippers the best team in basketball, though he quickly added that such a trade would never happen. The problem? The Clippers don’t have enough to offer in return.
Where would Lowry make the biggest impact? Antoine Walker made a case for the 76ers on "First Things First." Lowry is a Philadelphia native who played college basketball at Villanova. As Walker said, "if you add him to that equation with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, now you have a legitimate chance to compete against the Brooklyn Nets."
Not only would the 76ers get a great player, but they’d also get a great coach – at least on the floor.