DeMar DeRozan's trade took Kyle Lowry by surprise, but he wasn't nearly as surprised as the San Antonio Spurs star was when he found out.
DeRozan was so stunned after being told he was being sent to the Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, he spent over two hours in a Jack In The Box parking lot trying to get his wits about him.
Lowry was woken up by a phone call around 2:30 am but was too slow to answer as he tried to avoid waking his young son Kameron up. He didn't have to wait long before DeRozan called again. And by then, he knew that it was something serious.
PREVIOUSLY: KYLE LOWRY ROASTS RAPTORS FOR POOR COMMUNICATION
The 29-year-old was shocked, angry and woebegone. He shouted into the phone as his former teammate and best friend allowed him to vent. He had, after all, proven his loyalty to Toronto by giving them all of his nine years in the NBA. Sadly, they failed to reciprocate.
“He’s the guy that emotionally, we were invested, like that’s my dog,” Lowry told The Athletic in an interview. “What can you say? I was just like, ‘Damn. Crazy.’
“It was a tough moment for people to understand because you’ve invested so much time and emotion, business, and family into an organization and they trade you. That’s when you really know it’s a business. I got my taste of the business early, my second year in the league, but he’s never had to deal with that.”
Lowry had his own experiences with the bitter, business side of the NBA so he exactly how DeRozan felt. His time in Memphis with the Grizzlies had left him heartbroken, with the team drafting Mike Conley to replace him at the point following his rookie season.
While he gave his friend a listening ear, he prompted more rage from him by opening up on his own disappointments. He still sent DeRozan an encouraging text after the mostly one-sided conversation was over, but he was unable to go back to sleep.
The point guard has since moved on from the heartbreaking separation and it has been made easier by how well the Raptors are doing this season, thanks to Leonard.
“Me, how I am, I want to make sure he [Leonard] is comfortable,” Lowry said. “He’s the most talented player that we have. He’s our best player. He’s got a ring. Why not? Danny’s been great, too. Nothing is ever awkward because this is a small brotherhood. We all respect what we do.
“I always think about the next kill, not kill, but the next thing to do. I feel people are always going to say something. All I can I do is keep it moving and eat. And make sure everybody else eats. I always want to help everyone else eat and if I help everyone else eat, I’m happy.”
The Raptors are sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference and are 18-4 ahead of their showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
“For me, it was about coming in and really being a pro," Lowry added. "Do your job. You’ll be fine. You know how to play this game. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to say anything about you and that’s how I approach it. I’m doing my job.”
What This Means
The Raptors' decision to trade DeRozan shook the league and left many people angry. But the team is reaping the rewards of having a player like Leonard in their team and are doing well even when he sits out.
Of course, there is the fear that he could leave when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. But the team has also done well to ensure that the player's future isn't a distraction.