9:37 PM ET.

Tim Bontempspen.

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry doesn’t know where his future lies after this season, or even after the trade deadline this year. But he is sure of one thing: When his career is over, he will retire in a Raptors jersey.

Let me say this: I’m retiring as a Toronto Raptor, Lowry said after the team’s practice Wednesday night before the second-round game in Tampa, Fla. against the Atlanta Hawks.

However, Lowry did not want to commit to returning to Toronto as a free agent when his contract expires this summer, or even say definitively that he will be with the team when his contract expires in two weeks.

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Lowry said: I want this season to end on a high note.

At the end of the day, me, my agent, the organization, everyone has to do what’s best for them, right? Everyone should do what is best for themselves and for the situation.

Who knows what it is, right? Who knows what will happen, who knows what this time will say? For me, I know I’m still playing at a good level, where I can help the team and us and improve.

Lowry’s name has come up repeatedly in recent weeks as a potential target for teams. The Raptors are two games under .500 after being one of the best teams in the East in recent years, and the trade market itself is tight after so many star players were traded or signed extensions to their current teams in recent years. He might be the best player on the field.

That is, if Lowry is indeed available. Lowry, as he so often has, praised the young core of the team – Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OH Anunoby and Norman Powell – for their growth.

But he didn’t talk too much about his future, other than to point out a recent report that he allegedly told people he was leaving Toronto, which wasn’t true.

I don’t really care and it doesn’t bother me, because rumors are rumors and always will, Lowry said. But if they say something that doesn’t come from me verbally and I don’t say anything, it depends on what I say: Did you notice when I said that? I want to know who the source is, because the source is me.

That’s when you get defensive. It’s the same for me. It’s just to protect yourself for a second.

Lowry, who is averaging 18 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7 assists this season, is still playing at a high enough level to play at the deadline if he is traded, and to earn a high enough salary as a free agent this summer whether he is traded or not.

After all, he said, he didn’t know what would happen on either front.

For me personally, whatever happens, we’ll see, Lowry said. I don’t know. We don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. If I could tell you, if I could look into the crystal ball, I would tell you, but I don’t know what the crystal ball says. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what they think, but I do. We’ll go to that point and take it from there.

While the Raptors will be without several players – VanVleet, Siakam, Anunoby, Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn – due to NBA health and safety protocols, they have been reunited with head coach Nick Nurse, who was absent for the All-Star break.

Nurse said that if he coaches against the Hawks, the five assistant coaches who were also on his roster might not get to play with him.

Nurse took to Twitter on Wednesday to defend herself and her coaching staff after a report was released last week that they were at fault for not following protocols.

I don’t think anyone will guess what they are talking about. That’s really unfair, very speculative, unless you have video evidence of that, because I don’t think that’s very cool to say.

I think our coaching staff worked hard and followed the rules as much as possible. It’s not easy… The players have a tough job, but they don’t wear masks. Judges have a tough job – they don’t wear masks. Coaches have a tough job, and they wear masks. It’s a little more complicated than that.

But I think we had an unlucky series. Of course, we don’t try to follow the protocols as closely as possible.

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