By Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press on January 23, 2024.
MIAMI (AP) – Kyle Lowry is in the final year of his contract, spent the last couple of weeks in a slump and just last week lost his spot in the Miami Heat starting lineup.
A trade seemed inevitable – and the Charlotte Hornets helped make it a reality.
Lowry was trade Tuesday by the Heat to the Hornets for Terry Rozier – someone enjoying the best season of his career – in a swap of guards that figures to be a big help for Miami in its playoff push.
The defending Eastern Conference champion Heat also are sending a first-round draft pick to the Hornets to complete the deal. The pick will be lottery-protected for 2027; otherwise, Charlotte gets the pick in 2028.
“Man, Kyle has been one of my favorite teammates, if not the favorite teammate,” Heat captain Bam Adebayo said. “He’s always talking about ways to get the ball. He always talks about giving me easy catches. He’s been positive. He’s like a brother to me and he’ll continue to be my brother.”
Rozier will wear jersey No. 2 for the Heat, and the team already was working Tuesday on preparing his uniform – just in case he’s able to play when Miami plays host to Memphis on Wednesday. He wore No. 3 in Charlotte; that number is retired in Miami to honor Dwyane Wade, one of Rozier’s favorite players.
“I want to thank Terry for all his efforts since coming to Charlotte,” Hornets President Mitch Kupchak said. “On the court, he was a true professional and a great competitor who set a positive example for our young players. He also made himself a staple of the Charlotte community with his commitment to giving back. We wish him all the best in the future.
“The acquisition of a future first-round pick provides us an asset as we look to build long-term sustainable success around our young core of talented players. We believe adding this future pick and the additional financial flexibility from this trade will be beneficial as we continue to build our team moving forward.”
Rozier is expected to be an immediate upgrade for the Heat. He is averaging 23.2 points and 6.6 assists – both career bests – in 30 games this season and is shooting a career-high 46% as well. The trade reunites him with former Charlotte teammate Caleb Martin, who is in his third season with the Heat and said he’s excited to play with Rozier again.
“Definitely a bittersweet situation, for sure,” Martin said.
Lowry – a six-time All-Star and 2019 NBA champion with Toronto – had started in each of his first 35 appearances with the Heat this season, then was taken out of the starting five last week, and it didn’t take long for speculation to begin that his time with Miami was running short.
He averaged 8.2 points and 4 assists per game for the Heat this season, turns 38 in March and is on a $29.7 million expiring contract. He struggled in his final five games with Miami, shooting 5 for 30 and averaging only 2 points and 3.6 assists in that span.
“Terry’s a great player,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said. “We appreciate Kyle and everything he’s done for us, our team. Getting rid of someone who’s been a part of something like this is never easy, but I think it is time, the right time to make a move and I’m excited about it.”
The 29-year-old Rozier is making $23.2 million this season and is under contract for two more seasons. Charlotte is 10-31, well outside the playoff picture in the East.
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