Toronto coach Dwane Casey knew he was in for a fitful sleep that night in December 2013. The Raptors had a deal all set. Kyle Lowry was going to the Knicks for Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace and a future first-rounder.
“When I went to bed, I understood Kyle was being traded, we were going in another direction,” Casey said. “Then lo and behold, they changed their mind here. Thank goodness. I didn’t want to lose Kyle, his feistiness, his toughness. Sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don’t. It was a difference-maker, that deal being turned down by New York.”
A difference-maker for both sides. Since killing that deal, which rates among their worst moves in the past often-tortured decade, the Knicks have auditioned no fewer than 18 — honest, eighteen — guys for their point-guard role.
“Of course I’ve thought about it,” Lowry said of the “What if?” aspects, “But ancient history. It’s a situation I can’t really think about because it didn’t happen. “But not my fault,” he added laughing.
So while everyone from Raymond Felton to Emmanuel Mudiay directed the Knicks, the Raptors with Lowry won three Atlantic titles, 48, 49, 56 and 51 games entering this season. Victory No. 49 came Sunday, a 132-106 Garden wipeout of the Knicks, Toronto’s follow-up to a spirited win over Houston that stuffed the Rockets’ winning streak at 17. The Raptors are more than legitimate in their bid for their first Finals appearance.