The Toronto Raptors have been linked to Damian Lillard with more fervor than they had ever been previously. The Portland Trail Blazers star wants to end up on the Miami Heat, but Portland seems unwilling to trade him to South Beach if their demands are not met.
The Raptors, sitting on a collection of picks and young talent, could be at the front of the line in the Lillard sweepstakes if Miami is ruled out. A team led by Lillard, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam has the potential to be wildly successful in the short and long term.
The Raptors have to go into this knowing that they will need to send away multiple premium picks, desired players, and potentially more to Portland (and a potential third team to facilitate things) if they want Lillard. It’s a substantial risk, but this is the cost of doing business in the NBA.
Would a Lillard trade bring the second coming of Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors, or will Masai Ujiri come to regret it?
Grade the Trade: 3-team proposal gets Damian Lillard to the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto would be giving up more picks, but they would get the chance to add a true superstar in Lillard without surrendering many of the complementary pieces around him. A starting lineup featuring Lillard, Gary Trent Jr, Barnes, Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl would be lethal.
Phoenix would be freed from the chains of Ayton’s ridiculous contract, adding a solid rental in his place with Nurkic. They could pick up a second-rounder for their troubles, as they are completely out of draft capital following the Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal trades.
Portland may not get a haul of picks, but Ayton and Anunoby could help them make some noise in the Western Conference alongside a young, talented backcourt of Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe. Names like Boucher can be flipped for extra capital down the line.
While the Raptors would mortgage a large chunk of their future to acquire Lillard, and Portland may not have picked up the gargantuan haul of draft picks fans might expect or want, this deal helps all three of these franchises solve big roster problems, all while Toronto becomes a contender.