Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan chatted and laughed at their neighboring lockers following Tuesday’s Game 2 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Toronto. Backs to the media members awaiting a postgame interview, this is a standard sight after Raptors games.
When DeRozan headed to the podium to meet the press, Lowry hung back in an Air Canada Centre hallway, holding his backcourt mate's daughter in his arms.
“Honestly, we talk every single day,” DeRozan said after practice on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after scoring 30 points to help tie the series with the Nets at 1-1. “We figure out ways to make each other better, make this team better. We constantly talk.
"I always come to his house, freeload [off] his refrigerator, whatever his chef is cooking. Go over there, eat, take my daughter over there, play with his son. They play cars, race cars, whatever, do little kid things. Just that bonding has grown with that. That’s definitely cool.”
Lowry was reportedly almost traded to the New York Knicks in December, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July. He’s been the Raptors’ most productive player, putting up 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in the regular season, and one of the driving forces behind this run to the playoffs.
The Raptors recovered from a 6-12 start to rattle off a franchise-record 48 wins, but things would have been drastically different if they had traded Lowry after they dealt Rudy Gay. As Raptors coach Dwane Casey said last week, sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.
While Lowry generally avoids talking about his future, he’s been nothing but positive about the present of late. He said he’s never been on a team with this kind of camaraderie.
“I love my team,” Lowry said. “I’ll tell anybody that firsthand. I really appreciate being [here] every day with these guys. Every day I look forward to talking to them and joking with them and having fun with them because it’s rare that you get a team like this. So you take advantage of the full opportunity that you have. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity that I have this year with these guys.”
Both Lowry and DeRozan referenced a conversation about chemistry they had the previous night. It’s no surprise they’d be in a good mood after earning Toronto’s first postseason win since 2008, but it seems they sincerely see something special here.
“It’s not just being politically correct or nothing like that,” DeRozan said, adding that he’s never worried about what might happen this summer. Lowry already knows DeRozan wants to keep building something here, and DeRozan has repeatedly given his point guard credit for his own success.
Lowry called the Raptors a “band of brothers,” and he appreciates that the environment is conducive to constructive criticism. He can tell DeRozan when he messes up a play, and DeRozan will say he’s right. It’s not just one dominant voice, Lowry said, and bench players are free to contribute ideas. As he described Toronto’s locker room, it sounded like a place he wouldn’t mind staying.
“The chemistry, it’s unbelievable,” Lowry said. “I can pick up my phone and call any one of my teammates and have a conversation. Serious, jokingly, it’s just cool. It’s just great to have a group of guys who just really get along. You’d never think a group like that, with so many different personalities, that everyone really just feeds off each other and everyone genuinely likes each other.”
James Herbert contributes to ESPN.com. Follow him, @outsidethenba.