TORONTO - Talk about bouncing up off of the canvas after absorbing a hard right.
A day after being turned down by Steve Nash and with vultures starting to -- if not circle him, but at least take to the air -- Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo landed his other primary target on Thursday.
Colangelo quickly rebounded from the Nash miss by acquiring point guard Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets for a protected lottery pick and reserve guard Gary Forbes.
ESPN first reported the move, and team sources quickly confirmed it was a go and that the pick would be protected top 3 in 2013, though nothing is expected to be announced until the league's moratorium ends on July 11th.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets will receive the pick next summer if the Raptors land between 4-14; will get it any of the next two years if the Raptors select from 3-14 or if it is a 2-14 selection the following two years after that and wherever it is, unprotected, if it hasn't been claimed by then.
Toronto thought about dealing the No. 8 selection at the 2012 draft and possibly other assets in exchange for Lowry, but held off, thinking a huge run at Nash was the wiser call.
In the end, ironically, Lowry is a far better fit in Toronto and is also 12 years younger.
Lowry, 26, is a favourite of Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and only became available because he bristled with the way he was handled by Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
His contract has two years remaining at $5.75 and $6.21 million U.S., making Lowry one of the best bargains in the NBA.
An elite defender and rebounder for his position, Lowry also averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 assists last season. He gets to the line often thanks to his aggressive approach (and converted 86.4% of his free throw attempts last season) and also has worked to become a strong three-point shooter (37.4% and 37.6% the past two seasons).
In 38 starts in 2011-12, Lowry averaged 15.9 points, 7.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
The guard puts constant pressure on opponents at both ends.
He is also close with Raptors scout Alvin Williams, another Philadelphia native who played college ball at Villanova.
Lowry will become the leader of the club both on and off the court. His fiery personality and dogged competitiveness makes him the obvious choice to be the guy Casey hands the reins to.
Following a game-high 26-point performance against the Raptors in Houston following the all-star break, Casey was extremely complimentary.
"He's a hell of a competitor. He's their heart and soul and spirit of their team and I love the way he plays," Casey said.
The downside of the Lowry move is a far shorter list than the upside.
He will seek -- and deserve -- a sizable raise after the 2013-14 season; While a solid three-point shooter, is average at best from mid-range; Has had some injury issues including a blown ACL and lost his cool with McHale.
Still, he was far too good to pass up and by bringing him to Toronto, Colangelo solved many of his club's most pressing needs while also immediately shifting attention away from the Nash situation.
On Wednesday, everybody wondered how the Raptors could ever recover after suffering such a devastating blow.
Now, the question is where does Houston go?
Lowry did not enjoy losing his starting job to Goran Dragic after getting injured last season and in the end, the team chose McHale over Lowry.
Not long after surgery to fix torn abductor muscles and a sports hernia, Lowry had told the Houston Chronicle he wasn't sure if he'd be back.
"If things aren't addressed coaching-wise, I guess I have to be moved," Lowry said.
At one point during the season, Lowry had to be restrained from going after McHale.
Still, it seemed the Rockets, poised to lose Dragic to the Phoenix Suns who have a verbal agreement with the unrestricted free agent, would try to mend fences with Lowry.
With other point guard options dwindling by the day (the Rockets hope to land Jeremy Lin, but the Knicks can match any offer), that seemed like the logical call.
But the Rockets went another way and its Colangelo and the Raptors who could be benefiting from the decision for years to come.
The NBA's salary cap for 2012-13 is expected to be set around $58 million U.S. The Raptors are right about there assuming their three rookies are signed, but more moves still need to be made, perhaps involving either Jose Calderon (who can be erased from the cap entirely via the amnesty rule) or Jerryd Bayless:
Jose Calderon - $10.5 million
Andrea Bargnani - $10 million
Amir Johnson - $6 million
Landry Fields - $6.33 million #
Kyle Lowry - $5.75 million
Linas Kleiza - $4.65 million
DeMar DeRozan - $3.33 million
Ed Davis - $2.2 million
James Johnson - $2.8 million
Jonas Valanciunas - $2.8 million *
Terrence Ross - $2.1 million *
Quincy Acy - $700,000 #
Jerryd Bayless - Restricted free agent
@= According to reports * = once signed #= approximate
Knicks sign Nash
The Los Angeles Clippers upgraded their bench on Thursday, re-signing Chauncey Billups and signing Jamal Crawford.
According to the Los Angeles Times Billups, who missed most of last season after undergoing surgery on his Achilles tendon, will sign a one-year deal, while Crawford, who is coming off of a poor season, will receive a three-year contract worth about $15 million U.S.
Billups is a former Finals MVP, while Crawford a former sixth man of the year recipient.
KIDD BOLTS DALLAS
Unable to get Steve Nash, the New York Knicks turned to another aging point guard, signing Jason Kidd to a three-year, $9-million deal, according to ESPN.
New York is still expected to match Houston's offer for Jeremy Lin and has also considered bringing back Raymond Felton.
Brandon Bass is returning to Boston, according to his agent Tony Dutt. Bass, acquired for Glen Davis, opted out of his previous contract, but will return for an estimated $20 million.
Bass played well once Kevin Garnett shifted to the middle.
Jameer Nelson is staying in Orlando.
Nelson opted out of an $8-million option and was expected to test free agency, but instead is returning to his only NBA home for an undisclosed sum, according to the Orlando Sentinel.