Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors are currently in the middle of one of the most chaotic trade sagas we’ve seen in the NBA in quite some time. Just when it looked like Damian Lillard being traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Miami Heat was a lock, the Raptors have managed to wiggle right up to the forefront.
Lillard makes a ton of sense for the Raptors, provided that Barnes and All-Star forward Pascal Siakam find themselves as far away from trade talks as possible. Moving off one of them would rewire the entire culture and decision-making process in Toronto.
The Blazers would love to get Barnes, who has been unofficially designated as the team’s franchise cornerstone going forward. While some figure Barnes to be a potential game-changing trade chip, Masai Ujiri is not interested in letting him go one bit.
According to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, Barnes is not on the table in trade talks. Not only does this confirm that Barnes was never in discussion to be rerouted to Portland, but Helin also added that Toronto never even considered putting him in talks for Lillard.
NBA rumors: Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes not available for Damian Lillard.
The Raptors had the chance to acquire Kevin Durant last offseason due to all the tumult the Brooklyn Nets found themselves in, but Ujiri was not willing to put Barnes in those discussions. That mindset has not changed as Barnes enters his third NBA season.
While Barnes regressed in some areas and flatlined in others, the improvements he made as a playmaker show that Toronto is still justified in placing such an important designation on him. Because he doesn’t need to have a ton of shots to be effective, Barnes could thrive alongside Lillard.
Even without Barnes on the table, Toronto is reportedly at the front of the race for Lillard amid some disinterest with Miami’s best possible package. Lillard would make Toronto financially inflexible, but they would be a contender instantly.
Toronto faces an uncertain future due to Pascal Siakam’s contract situation. If they can get him to commit long-term, the Raptors could retain Barnes, lean on Lillard, and compete with some of the best teams in the league.