Lowry staying “home,” re-signing with Raptors

TORONTO — When Kyle Lowry pondered all of his basketball options, he says he kept coming back to the same place — Toronto.

The three-time all-star point guard is re-signing with the Raptors, announcing his decision on Sunday in “The Players Tribune.” The 31-year-old reportedly signed a three-year deal worth US$100 million.

His decision, he wrote, is all about finishing what he started.

“It was up to me to decide whether this thing we have — is it worth sticking around for, and running it back again, and seeing if we can take that next step?” Lowry wrote. “And like I said — to me, that was an easy decision. The answer is yes.”

“If you’re looking for people to believe in — choose the people who believed in you first,” Lowry wrote. “And if you start something? Man, you finish it.”

The announcement was good news for the Raptors, who will also have Serge Ibaka next season. The Raptors and Ibaka agreed earlier in the day to a three-year deal worth US$65 million.

Lowry averaged 22.4 points and seven assists last season, but missed 21 games late in the regular season after undergoing wrist surgery. He returned for the final four regular-season games, but had little time to gel with newcomers Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, who were acquired at February’s trade deadline to boost Toronto’s chances at capturing the Eastern Conference title.

“I don’t think we’ve reached our true potential,” Lowry wrote.

The Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round of the playoffs, but were swept by Cleveland in the conference semifinals.

“When I had to make my free-agency decision, there was a lot going through my head, a lot of roads my mind was travelling down,” Lowry wrote. “At the end of the day, this was an easy decision. And all of those roads… they all led me back to the same place: home. They all led me back to Toronto.”

The 31-year-old guard opted out of the final year of his contract in May, and said in the Raptors’ post-season press conference that he wanted to win a championship.

“I want a ring,” Lowry said. “That’s all that drives me. I want to just get better, I want to have fun, I want to win a ring.”

Paired up with DeMar DeRozan, who received a five-year deal worth US$139 last off-season, the Raptors will continue to have one of the most formidable backcourts in the league.

The duo led the Raptors to back-to-back 50-win seasons, and four consecutive playoff berths.

In his letter, Lowry wrote about his love for Toronto.

“My heart is telling me that this is the best city in the world, with the best basketball fans in the world,” he wrote.

The father of two young sons mentioned the importance of keeping his family happy.

“When I saw (son) Karter’s reaction, that’s how I knew for sure this was right,” he said. ”I could tell right away, just from the look on his face… We would have been leaving a place that is really just … you know, it’s part of our family now. We’d have been leaving home.”

Lowry and DeRozan led the Raptors to the 2015 Eastern Conference finals, where they took eventual NBA champion Cleveland to six games. Looking to go one better this past season, president Masai Ujiri acquired Ibaka and Tucker in February.

The 27-year-old Ibaka, acquired in the deal that sent Terrence Ross to Orlando, averaged 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23 games with the Raptors. Entering his ninth NBA season, Ibaka has career averages of 12 points and 7.3 rebounds.

Tucker won’t be back with the Raptors next season, as reports had the gritty defensive specialist agreeing to a deal with the Houston Rockets.

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