After the Toronto Raptors got swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, more rumors surfaced about the fate of free-agent-to-be Kyle Lowry. Most of those rumors had a similar theme: Lowry may go West.

With his struggles to get past a LeBron-led team that makes some sense, although it can’t all be to get ahead in the playoffs; the Western Conference isn’t exactly filled with cupcakes. But if he wants a change of scenery and different matchups, I’m sure several teams would love to have him. The Dallas Mavericks could use a point guard, as could the New Orleans Pelicans, the San Antonio Spurs and even the Utah Jazz if George Hill does not re-sign with them. But one team has been specifically named as a candidate: the Denver Nuggets.

Ortiz doesn’t say why he rates the Nuggets as a top option for Lowry’s services, but as an up-and-coming team with a start at center in Nikola Jokic and strong options at most positions except for point guard, it would be a match of need and opportunity. Kyle Lowry wouldn’t be involved in a leadership struggle – the Nuggets desperately need an on-court leader and playoff-tested player. The Raptors can offer Lowry the most money but they can also choose not to, which opens him up to a max from any other team. $35 million a year is a huge pricetag, but Denver can fit that into its budget and not many other teams can.

Lowry is a three-time All Star who finished the year sandwiched between Russell Westbrook and Mike Conley as a top-five point guard in RPM. He’s playing at the highest levels of his career, but has also been somewhat injury-prone (making him a natural fit with the Nuggets in that area). His three-point stroke has improved so much over his career that it’s opened his slashing to the hoop to another level. Lowry has very few weaknesses in his game, and could provide the kind of boost in leadership and performance that Chauncey Billups did when he came to Denver. Billups also happens to be his friend and mentor.

If the Nuggets wanted to sign a credible All-Star who can compete with the best point guards in the West, Lowry would be a great get. It would complicate the back-court; since Lowry is used to playing 35+ minutes per game, it squeezes Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray out of most of the point guard minutes and means at least one of them won’t be extended since Denver won’t have the money. That provides the Nuggets with plenty of ammunition to go get that third star player in trade, however, or to restock their draft pick war-chest like Boston. Lowry is 31, but his downside is as good as the upside on the rookies for at least a few years.

The real question that Denver would have to answer: can he adapt to a center touching the ball as much as Jokic needs to? That’s not the easiest adjustment for all point guards to make, especially scoring guards. It took Jameer Nelson most of two seasons with Jokic to get the hang of it, and Lowry will just have training camp to find that rhythm.

But if the Nuggets believe that Lowry can share the ball with Denver’s 7-foot prodigy, that would open up a world of possibilities for them. Having an experienced point guard who can go toe-to-toe with the Damian Lillards and Chris Pauls of the Western Conference would be a huge get this summer. He also happens to be one of the better point guard defenders even at his size, which would help that Denver weakness as well. Lowry isn’t a basketball name that automatically puts butts in seats but he does put wins in the box scores, and that should be the primary goal.

Kyle Lowry is the best player who might consider Denver this offseason, at a position in which Denver ranks as one of the worst in the league right now – and all he costs is money. There’s no need to give away the franchise as the New York Knicks did for Carmelo Anthony. Denver has the cap room, and should be planning a roster restructure this summer anyway.

Of all the rumors about potential roster fits, this one interests me the most. It’s a guard-driven league, and even with a unicorn at center the Nuggets aren’t going to win in the playoffs without several ways to initiate the offense and create points on important possessions. There may be no better option than Lowry – if the Nuggets think they can pay the price.

This content is no longer available.