Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry finally embraces playing for 76ers

Kyle Lowry's best plays of the 2023-24 season before trade to 76ers (1:56)

Check out Kyle Lowry's best plays from this season with the Heat prior to signing with the Sixers. (1:56)

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Despite his lifelong ties to the City of Brotherly Love, Kyle Lowry admitted Wednesday that playing for the Philadelphia 76ers -- the team he grew up rooting for -- was not something he dreamed of doing earlier in his NBA career.

"It wasn't a dream," Lowry said after his first practice as a member of the Sixers. "You never want to play at home because there's so much going on. It's a hard place to play when you go back home.

"But at the end of the day, it's a dream come true, because I'm actually being able to play in front of my friends and family and people I cheered [for] as a Sixers fan growing up. Now, I'm prepared to do it. When you're younger, you're not really prepared to do it. But at this in my time in my career, I'm prepared to do it."

It's the latest step in a basketball career that began in North Philadelphia at Cardinal Dougherty High School, continued in college at Villanova University and likely will end in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.

For Lowry and the 76ers, this is a marriage of both comfort and convenience. Lowry, 37, is in his 18th NBA season and was looking for a new home after the Miami Heat shipped him to the Charlotte Hornets -- along with a first-round pick -- in a trade for Terry Rozier last month. And, because of the NBA's new rules governing buyout players under the new collective bargaining agreement, signing with expensive contenders such as the Phoenix Suns or the LA Clippers wasn't an option even if Lowry wanted to go there.

Philadelphia offered not only the comforts of home but the comforts of longtime relationships with both president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who drafted Lowry in 2006 in his prior job running the Houston Rockets, and coach Nick Nurse, who was with him for the better part of a decade with the Toronto Raptors, including the 2019 title-winning squad.

"It was good," Nurse said of having Lowry on the practice court Wednesday. "He's familiar with a lot of the stuff that we do because of our history, so he's good. He's obviously a leader -- vocal leader. Could notice that presence already."

There was a clear need for Lowry's services. The Sixers shipped Patrick Beverley out before the deadline to create a rotation spot -- part of a series of moves that saw the 76ers upgrade their guard rotation with Lowry and also Buddy Hield via trade with the Indiana Pacers.

And while Lowry said he needs time to ramp up his conditioning after not playing in an NBA game since Jan. 19, he made it clear he's going to do whatever he can to help the 76ers win in whatever role Nurse asks him to play.

"I'm excited to be here," Lowry said. "I understand my role and my job. My job is to make sure that Tyrese [Maxey] gets better, and this team gets to a point where they haven't been in a while. And that's my job.

"My job is to do everything I can to make this team and this organization better. No matter what the role is, what the minutes are, what the situation is. My job is to be a professional and help Tyrese get better, help this team get better, help coach get better and help everybody get better. That's my job."

Philadelphia will be getting Lowry on the court for the first time against the New York Knicks on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center, and they also should get at least one of Nicolas Batum (hamstring) and De'Anthony Melton (back) on the court as well, if not both.

For a team that's simply trying to stay afloat as it waits for the eventual return of Joel Embiid from a knee procedure, Nurse was quite happy to have additional reinforcements at his disposal.

"We certainly needed the guys back," Nurse said. "There were two or three starters, sometimes four starters, not playing, so we certainly need some of those starting guys back. ... We've probably added a couple guys, Buddy's been a starter his whole career. Kyle's capable of starting, Kelly [Oubre Jr.] started a lot for us.

"We've be able to shift some of that, so we should be able to have a little more depth, a little more solid bench and certainly have grown in the guard position a lot in the last few weeks. So that's good. We needed to. So looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. ... But it looks good. It's good having those guys out there."