Could Knicks sign free agent Kyle Lowry? These two factors will come into play

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Kyle Lowry treated image, white Raptors jersey and grey background
Kyle Lowry treated image, white Raptors jersey and grey background

As we head to the draft and free agency, SNY is doing a series on the different factors surrounding potential free agents for the Knicks. We have previous stories on Julius Randle, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and some restricted free agents.

Here’s a look at some factors surrounding unrestricted free agent Kyle Lowry:

Does he want a multi-year deal?

I could be wrong about this, but I think one of the keys to any Lowry-Knicks partnership hinges on the length of the contract.

Here’s why: Ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, some with the Knicks felt that they only should make a significant trade if it catapulted them into the league’s upper echelon.

Those Knicks people felt that using significant trade capital (draft picks, young players) on a player who didn’t "move the needle" would be a mistake.

Why is that relevant now?

As recently as last month, the Knicks talked internally about acquiring a top-tier star via trade or signing.

If they move forward with that in mind, they would probably to try to maintain cap flexibility this offseason for the class of 2022. That class will likely feature Chicago’s Zach LaVine and Washington’s Bradley Beal.

In order to maintain cap flexibility for 2022, the Knicks would have to sign most free agents this summer to short-term deals.

If Lowry is amenable to taking a one-year deal, I can see the Knicks exploring what it would cost to bring him in New York (of course, this assumes that the Knicks don’t trade for Collin Sexton or Lillard prior to free agency).

During the regular season, the Knicks discussed Lowry as a potential free agent target.

If they pursue him in free agency, they’ll probably have significant competition. Miami, Philadelphia and the Lakers all wanted to trade for Lowry prior to the 2021 trade deadline.

All three of those teams can re-engage Toronto on potential sign-and-trades for Lowry this offseason.

Miami can also create enough cap space to sign Lowry outright. Lowry has a close relationship with Heat star Jimmy Butler.

Is he a good fit for the Knicks?

Last year, amid injuries, Lowry scored 17.2 points per game and averaged 7.3 assists. He shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. There’s reason to expect Lowry, 35, to continue to produce at a similar rate. So he could certainly help the Knicks shore up the lead guard position in the short term.

And his leadership/impact on winning is unquestioned. It’s easy to see how adding Lowry would help the Knicks build a winning culture.

The question about Lowry – and any other guard who is at his most effective with the ball in his hands – is the fit alongside Randle.

During the regular season, the Knicks internally broached the idea of signing a lead guard who isn’t ball-dominant.

That player, the thinking went, would allow Randle and RJ Barrett to continue to handle the ball. And that player would allow Rose to fit well in his role as lead guard off the bench.

Can Lowry fill that role? It’s possible. But there could be younger options available this summer.

The bottom line? Other teams will probably pursue Lowry aggressively this offseason.

So the Knicks may have to offer Lowry a high annual salary or multiple years on a contract to sign him.

If New York wants to maintain flexibility for 2022, a multi-year offer wouldn’t make a lot of sense. So the Knicks will probably have to offer Lowry a significant one-year deal to bring him to the Garden.