For someone who was being counted on to help push the Miami Heat over the top in their bid for an NBA Finals redux, the returns on Kyle Lowry have been decidedly meh since he moved to South Beach in August of 2021.
Be it due to his age, the wear and tear on his body after spending the better part of two decades in the Association or a less-than-ideal adjustment to changing teams, Lowry largely hasn’t been the player he was with the Toronto Raptors. And that’s when he has actually played.
Thanks to a combination of injuries, load management and excused absences for personal reasons, the 36-year-old missed 19 regular-season contests in 2021-22 (and several more playoff games). Those are numbers he could eclipse in 2022-23, too, as he’s already at 15 missed games on the year.
That said, a new report has indicated that Lowry’s latest stint on the shelf — which has come as a result of knee soreness — may be ending sooner than expected.
Tim Reynolds: Kyle Lowry Progressing Toward Possible Return Before February Ends
According to a report from The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds on Sunday, Lowry may be back on the court with expected signee Kevin Love and the rest of the Heat crew sooner rather than later.
“Per source, Kyle Lowry has hope of returning to the Miami lineup by the end of the month (which would indicate his knee soreness is improving).” tweeted Reynolds. “The picture with Lowry will become much clearer in the coming days, but there are encouraging signs.”
This would indicate a bit of a sea change from several days ago when the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang reported that Lowry was “expected to miss the remaining games in February and likely some time beyond that.”
Moreover, Miami was actually shopping Lowry ahead of the trade deadline. And given his uneven performance on the hardwood and high salary (he’s pulling down $28.3 million this year and $29.7 million next, guaranteed), it’s not hard to understand why.
Kyle Lowry Has Ceded Some Minutes to Gabe Vincent Amid His Slumping
Lowry’s numbers are down across the board for the Heat. In 44 appearances this season, he’s averaging just 12.0 points per game — his lowest output in 10 years and a mark that has resulted from his 39.6% conversion rate overall and 33.3% efficacy from three-point range.
Counting stats aside, the telltale sign that something has gone awry is probably the fact Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has kept Lowry glued to the bench during multiple recent fourth quarters, opting instead to roll with backup Gabe Vincent (who ranks third teamwide in fourth-quarter MPG since January 7 at 9.6).
Speaking of, some fans and pundits have even begun championing Vincent as a starting option. And the baller has definitely made a strong case for himself when given the chance to play first-team minutes. In his 11 starts this season, Vincent has averaged 15.9 PPG with 46-37-92 shooting splits.
In other words, numbers that dwarf Lowry’s.
Meanwhile, Vincent’s net swing for the season of 4.4 also compares favorably to Lowry’s, which currently checks in at minus-1.4.