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#pounditThursday, October 1, 2020

Report: Kyle Lowry was critical of DeMar DeRozan’s defense after Cavs sweep

Kyle Lowry

Many players have expressed their discontent over the way the Toronto Raptors handled the DeMar DeRozan situation, and there is a belief that Kyle Lowry is among those who are angry over the trade. But according to some reports, the friendship between DeRozan and Lowry has been overstated.

When asked on Friday about the trade that sent DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, Lowry dodged every question. He only told reporters that he was excited to be working out with USA Basketball.

“It’s been a great week for USA Basketball for me,” Lowry said. “Being out here with these guys and hanging out and getting to talk and hang out with these guys and hanging out with DeMar and all those guys, it’s been fun.

“Summer has been great in general for everyone. Just to have the opportunity to relax and work on your game and prepare for the upcoming season.”

Every time he was asked about the DeRozan trade, Lowry provided some variation of the above response. Some took that to mean he is angry with Toronto’s front office and doesn’t want to discuss it, but Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star reminds us that the relationship between DeRozan and Lowry has experienced plenty of rough patches.

Sure, they’re friends. But it’s important not to forget that they’ve butted heads professionally. A little more than a year ago, after the Raptors were ousted by the Cavaliers in the 2017 playoffs, the duo’s connection was as frayed as it’s ever been. DeRozan expressed displeasure that Lowry sat out the final two games of the sweep, essentially calling into question the severity of the point guard’s ankle injury. Lowry apparently didn’t appreciate the insinuation. There were suggestions within the organization that something wasn’t right in the locker room. Whatever the various problems, peace talks were arranged. Then-coach Dwane Casey presided over a Bay Area meeting around the NBA final that brought together DeRozan and Lowry for an airing of grievances, an important step on the road to Lowry signing a three-year extension worth about $100 million.

The internal finger-pointing hardly stopped there. Sources say in the wake of this year’s sweep by the Cavaliers Lowry added his voice to an organizational chorus critical of DeRozan’s defensive ineptitude, the worst of which saw him benched for the fourth quarter of Game 3.

While the way Leonard handled his situation with the Spurs has been a topic of much criticism, no one questions his defensive abilities. The same can’t be said for DeRozan, and Toronto’s new head coach actually alluded to that prior to the trade.

If Leonard is healthy and committed to helping the Raptors win (even for only one season), there’s no question he’s a better player than DeRozan. Lowry knows that, so it shouldn’t take him long to get over the trade if his goal is to be competitive.

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