Raptors lose Kyle Lowry until playoffs

The Toronto Raptors appeared to be the big winners following the NBA trade deadline, with their acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. The euphoria did not last long, however, as the team announced that All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry would undergo right wrist surgery. He is projected to return for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

While the loss is somewhat mitigated by the Raptors’ depth in the backcourt with guards Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, and rookie Fred VanVleet, Toronto will miss the star guard’s presence. The surgery is designed to remove loose bodies from Lowry’s wrist.

Even though the Raptors will still breeze into the playoffs, Lowry’s loss could affect seeding–ultimately making Toronto’s road that much tougher. At 35-24, the Raptors are in fourth place in the East and currently sit six games behind the No. 1-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto remains 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth seed.

Lowry has missed the team’s last two games, and Toronto has 23 games left in the regular season. The point guard is averaging 22.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, and 4.7 RPG for the Raptors, where he and DeMar DeRozan comprise one of the league’s best backcourts.

Joseph will serve as Lowry’s immediate replacement. The one-time San Antonio Spur is totaling 8.7 PPG and 2.9 APG, although he should expect to see a minute increase in the neighborhood of 10 minutes.

Lowry is leading the league in minutes played, with discussions that his minutes should decrease anyway. At 37.7 minutes per night, Lowry edges LeBron James in that category. DeRozan, who ranks 12th in minutes at 35.6, could also see a boost in playing time.