The Toronto Raptors went from someone on the periphery of a Damian Lillard trade to one of the favorites in just a matter of days. Unfortunately, Masai Ujiri was not able to close the deal, leaving the Portland Trail Blazers with no choice but to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks acquired Lillard in a three-team trade that also included the Phoenix Suns. Jrue Holiday and Deandre Ayton, alongside young forward Toumani Camara, will be heading to Portland along with a 2029 first-round pick and the right to swap picks with the Bucks in 2028 and 2030.
Jusuf Nurkic ended up in Phoenix alongside guards Grayson Allen and Keon Johnson and wing Nassir Little. The Raptors gave it a good shot, but they ultimately lacked many of the tradeable assets that Milwaukee had at their disposal. For the second offseason in a row, Toronto missed on a superstar.
Toronto Raptors miss out on Damian Lillard after Bucks trade.
With possible Blazers target OG Anunoby a free agent at the end of the season, and Toronto likely unwilling to make a trade involving a prized young player like Gradey Dick, the Raptors understandably had a tough time competing with this offer. No player Toronto could have offered (realistically) would compete with Holiday.
Lillard would have turned the Raptors into an instant championship contender, as he is one of the best scorers in the game and a clutch performer. Ujiri, who has been connected to both Lillard and Kevin Durant in the last few seasons, ultimately didn’t think it was the right time to overpay and go all-in on a game-changer.
Lillard might not be too keen on playing in Milwaukee as compared to Miami, but the possibility of winning multiple championships alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo has to be attractive for someone who has found it challenging to break through in the Western Conference.
The Raptors were in it until the very last second, but they ultimately wilted while a Bucks team that is hellbent on getting Giannis a second championship ring came in to take Dame away. Focus now shifts to the 2023-24 season and how a Pascal Siakam-led team can beat Lillard’s Milwaukee side.