The Toronto Raptors have been thrust back into the spotlight in recent weeks, as they have emerged as a serious threat to the Miami Heat as they both pursue Damian Lillard via a trade. While Miami remains Lillard’s top destination, the Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly been unimpressed with the offers sent their way.
In a day and age when superstars like Lillard and James Harden can pull off all sorts of tantrums until they get their trade demands met, everything fans have heard from Lillard’s camp is making it seem like he has no intention of ever suiting up for the Raptors if the trade happens.
The Raptors appear to be undeterred in their pursuit. Miami has essentially dared Portland to find a better trade offer than what they are putting up, and that is coming close to the realization that Toronto might be willing to exceed what Pat Riley is offering. If that happens, Lillard will make it very clear that he is still dreaming of South Florida.
According to Ethan Skolnick on the “Five on the Floor” podcast, Lillard would “make it ugly” for the Raptors and Bulls if he is traded to one of those situations, citing a past desire to only play for Miami. Is Toronto willing to call Lillard’s bluff and make the deal anyway?
NBA rumors: Damian Lillard is not keen on joining Toronto Raptors.
When Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Raptors from the San Antonio Spurs, many of the reports of ambivalence made their way onto Twitter. While Leonard eventually left for Los Angeles, he became the team’s marquee attraction and helped Toronto win a championship.
After signing a lucrative extension that makes him one of the highest-paid players in the league, Lillard would be missing out on a ton of money if he refused to play. With that extension kicking in soon, Lillard doesn’t have a ton of agency or leverage if he is traded.
Lillard could eventually warm up to Toronto, especially on the court. Lillard would get a ton of free reign to dominate, while names like Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes (both of whom are off the market) help keep this team in the contending tier in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors may not end up getting Lillard, as the Blazers will likely drive a hard bargain. Lillard potentially being an unhappy camper could give the front office pause for thought. Having said that, Kawhi sucked it up and dominated. Will Dame?