The Toronto Raptors are back in familiar trade territory, as they are connected to a superstar and future Hall of Famer despite the fact they are reportedly not keen on coming to Canada. It was Kawhi Leonard a few years ago, and it is Damian Lillard this time around.
The Portland Trail Blazers superstar has been trying everything in his power to get to the Miami Heat. Not only has Lillard made it clear that he wants to play in Miami, but he has reportedly been willing to make things “ugly” if he is traded to the Raptors or Chicago Bulls.
In Lillard’s perfect world, his desire to land in Miami will be strong enough to deter teams from trading for him out of fear he could be a malcontent with his new squad. However, the Raptors and Masai Ujiri likely won’t be easily deterred in their Dame pursuit.
The Raptors shouldn’t be deterred by Lillard’s demands. The Raptors have the ability to add one of the best players ever, and he doesn’t have the agency to refuse to play if Toronto actually trades for him. Let’s see if Lillard is actually serious about all these threats he is leaking to the media.
The Toronto Raptors should still trade for Damian Lillard.
Lillard signed a humungous extension that hasn’t kicked in just yet. With sitting out becoming an unreasonable option due to the length of his contract, Lillard wouldn’t have a ton of recourse if this trade actually happened. He’ll start, and he will thrive.
Toronto arguably made a riskier trade in the Leonard sweepstakes, trading away DeMar DeRozan and acquiring an expiring contract. While he bolted, Leonard managed to become a Raptors icon by assuming a leadership role. Lillard could do much the same on what could be the best team he has had around him in years.
While Lillard and Leonard could not be more different from a personalty-based point of view, they are both superstars who want to compete. With Lillard lacking a ring, will he turn down a chance to win with what could end up as one of the best rosters in the Eastern Conference?
Fans can debate the merits of trading for Lillard at the expense of their long-term future until they are blue in the face. That doesn’t mean Ujiri should operate scared. If you think Lillard is your guy, don’t be afraid of his agent. Make the move, and prosper afterward.