The Toronto Raptors have been the subject of a flurry of trade rumors in the last few weeks, as their connection to a Damian Lillard trade has gone from exploratory to serious at the speed of light. Lillard going to Toronto instead of the Miami Heat might actually come to fruition.
The Raptors refused a desire to rebuild in the offseason, and they have multiple trade chips that could entice a team like the Portland Trail Blazers. If the Heat’s offers fail to impress, the Raptors and Chicago Bulls could pounce. They have reportedly started to get Joe Cronin on the phone.
While Ujiri and the front office have talked up and down about player development internally, he also has been quoted in the past as saying players like Lillard demanding trades is the “new free agency.” With that quote out there in the ether, it’s easy to see why Ujiri
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Raptors have convinced multiple teams around the league that the interest in Lillard is real. If the motivation to get a deal done in the right circumstances exists, Lillard might end up in Toronto after months of photoshopping him in Heat jerseys.
NBA rumors: Toronto Raptors very interested in Damian Lillard.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Raptors are not discussing giving up either Scottie Barnes or Pascal Siakam in a Lillard deal. Toronto should be thrilled if they can acquire a future Hall of Famer near the peak of his powers without giving up those two names.
Lillard would likely require multiple first-round picks to be relinquished in a deal that probably features OG Anunoby as the most desirable piece. First-round pick Gradey Dick could also be traded in much the same way the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Ochai Agbaji to the Jazz for Donovan Mitchell.
Lillard would join a Toronto team that is ready to compete for a championship if he came to town. Lillard in the backcourt, Siakam in the paint, and Barnes on the wing is a three-headed monster that GMs would die for. With his contract keeping him in place for multiple seasons, this could be a sustainable way to win for Ujiri.
Lillard in Toronto would be a seismic shift in the balance of power in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors might not win a title with him, but he puts you in the hunt every year just by existing.