Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry: Toronto Raptors guard reflects on season, discusses future at exit interview

At the end of every season comes exit interviews, and as the Toronto Raptors season ended earlier than it has in recent years, Kyle Lowry delivered a number of introspective and memorable words as he reflected upon the 2020-21 season that was.

Lowry, who last played on May 2 before missing the team's final six games to rest, quipped that he was feeling "well-rested," when asked how he was currently feeling at the season's end.

In addition to the humour, Lowry spoke on a wide range of topics, including challenges and highlights of the season, the trades that never came to be and his impending free agency. Here are some of the most memorable highlights…

On what will go into his free agency decision…

"To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this. You know, also, money talks and years talk and all that's stuff. And let's be real - I play this game for the love of the game but at the end of the day, I want to make sure my family is still taken care of for generations and the time to come.

Even though they are now, I continue to be able to do that for my family … and be able to give back to the communities that I support and to be able to give back to the things that I love … Until that time comes, I still have a lot more to give, I have a ton of basketball left in me. Unfortunately, this year, it was a crazy year. We weren't in a good spot.

"My family, years, money, all that stuff comes into play. I don't like talking about that stuff because I think everything happens for a reason and it happens, so I'll prepare for anything and I'm ready to do my job - whatever it is, wherever, whenever it is, at a high level."

MORE: Raptors offseason outlook - what's next?

On the challenges of this past season

"This has been one of the most difficult years in NBA history and we got it done, somehow, some way. And it's a testament to the players, the coaches, the organization, the team, the media, the operating crews, from top to bottom.

"Am I able to separate it (from other years)? You have to but you can't because it's still an NBA season. This is my 15th year and it's still a part of my overall journey … you want to separate it because it was such a s- year but at the same time it's still a year that counts … yeah, you can made excuses and say this that and the other but I'm not going to make the excuse … because we were at a point where we were in fourth place.

If we were playing right now, there wouldn't be any excuses, so we didn't play well enough to get in the playoffs or get into the Play-In and all this stuff and we just didn't do what we could have done or do what was possible."

"The most challenging thing? I think the COVID time we had as our team. That hit us hard. It hit us at the wrong time and it kind of, the momentum we had, it kind of killed it … I know we were undermanned or whatever but that losing thing really bothers me and it bothered me a lot at the time."

MORE: Takeaways from Raptors' rollercoaster season

On highlights of this past season

"The highlights of this season, I'mma be honest with you, we had 10 guys score 30 points. Some young guys, some older …

"Freddy (VanVleet) having his career-high 54 points and setting a new franchise record, like the things that all my teammates do … Jalen Harris having his career night, Malachi (Flynn's) career night, Yuta (Watanabe) getting a contract, us signing Freddie Gillespie, us getting Khem Birch on a buyout and him having a fantastic year, Pascal (Siakam) taking a beating in the media and then coming back and playing his butt off.

"OG (Anunoby's) growth, the growth of OG and understanding what he's going to be. Freddy, I talk about him at length. 54 points, becoming a leader, the second-leading scorer, should have been an All-Star. Stanley Johnson, a guy that was a high pick. Super high, highly talented … to finish the season the way he did…

"Gary (Trent Jr.) coming over and having his career night … all the small things that my teammates have done are always the highlight of my personal season, what I do personally doesn't matter to me."

On his message to the fans following this season

"Thank you, right? Thank you.

"I know this year hasn't been the most winningest season. It hasn't been what they're used to, not the winning that they're used to seeing. But we played our butts off every opportunity that we could. We played extremely hard for us and for them as fans.

"Just know that there isn't a day where we don't think about wishing that we could be in front of them playing basketball. There's not a day that goes by that we don't say, 'Man, I wish we were in Scotiabank playing in front of our fans, in front of our young fans, our older fans.'

"There's not a day that didn't go when we didn't wish we're pulling up into Ryerson University or coming off the DVP or the Gardiner, going to our home building. There wasn't a day where we didn't miss practicing in our own practice facility. There wasn't a day where we didn't wish that we were coming out of our home tunnel with our fans standing up there and signing autographs. There wasn't one day where we didn't think about Jurassic Park.

"We thought about them every single day. We thought about the fans every single day. And one thing I'll say is that: it was one bad year. It wasn't even a bad year. It was just a difficult year of challenges. We just ran out of games. Our season didn't end; we just ran out of games to get back where we needed to get to.

"But it's always a new year. This is a time where things are different, right? Hopefully we can get back to normal and the world can be back to normal and everybody can come and cheer as loud as possible."

What's next?

As the Raptors miss the postseason, the next key date will be the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, which takes place on Tuesday, June 22. From there the team will make a lottery selection at the 2021 NBA Draft on July 29.

MORE: Who are players Raptors could target at projected pick?

For Lowry, he could take the floor as a member the United States Men's National Team as it prepares for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo. Lowry was one of the finalists named as potential candidates to make the final team.

The big date, of course, is Aug. 2, which is when 2021 Free Agency begins. Now that we know what will go into the decision, we will see what the Greatest Raptor of All Time decides to do.

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