The Toronto Raptors are almost assuredly not going to get involved into the Damian Lillard trade sweepstakes, especially with the Portland Trail Blazers star essentially demanding a trade to the Miami Heat, but they could help both sides facilitate what has become a very unusual process.
The Blazers are likely not enticed by the Heat’s collection of assets, as Lillard is a lethal scorer with multiple years left on his contract. The Raptors might help Portland get enough assets back to reconsider sending Lillard to Miami.
With the need for shooting still quite obvious, the Raptors might be able to land a very impactful piece without surrendering too much of their future draft capital. Of course, this would require a front office that has opted for a more low-key approach to step on the gas pedal and get aggressive.
If Masai Ujiri can get on the phone with two different front offices he has a history of dealing with and get his fingers in on the Lillard confusion, he could come out of the offseason with another long-term asset like Tyler Herro in Toronto’s cupboard and a better roster from top to bottom.
Grade the Trade: Toronto Raptors get Tyler Herro in Damian Lillard deal
Herro appears to be as good as gone, and there is no way for Lillard to come to Miami with Herro on the same team from both a schematic and financial point of view. Toronto capturing him helps a borderline All-Star player who still has his best years ahead of him. With so many players hitting free agency soon, Herro could be a mainstay.
Anunoby would be a more appealing addition for a team that already has to juggle Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and Scoot Henderson in the same backcourt. Even with one year left on his deal, Portland will get a long look at him before considering an extension.
While adding Little and some extra second-rounders could be useful ways to replenish depth, this move also helps Toronto get rid of an eight-figure Chris Boucher contract.
Portland will have to take on Lowry’s big contract, but getting Anunoby and three first-rounders for Lillard can easily be sold as a win for that front office.