The Toronto Raptors had a golden opportunity to add one of the best players in the game in Damian Lillard, but their hesitancy to make a move cost them once again. The Portland Trail Blazers sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks for a package headlined by Jrue Holiday.
The Raptors have been connected to multiple superstars in the last few years, as they had a puncher’s chance at getting Kevin Durant last summer. Once again, Masai Ujiri’s resistance to tearing down his roster and overvaluing his own players cost him in trade talks.
There was no way the Raptors could have acquired Lillard from Portland without trading away OG Anunoby, an All-Defensive Team forward and terrific shooter who is on an expiring contract. Anunoby would have made a ton of sense for Portland, but Masai Ujiri was seemingly uninterested in sending him to Oregon.
According to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, league sources believed the Raptors were unwilling to dangle Anunoby in trade talks with Portland. If prior reports claiming that Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam were off the table also ended up being true, one wonders how deep in the process Toronto was.
Toronto Raptors wouldn’t trade OG Anunoby for Damian Lillard.
The Raptors keeping Anunoby in a vacuum isn’t a bad decision, as he is still one of the most underrated players in the league and a dominant two-way player at his best. The lack of direction is what has made the fanbase so angry over the last few years, and OG is at the center of it.
Teams like the Warriors and Grizzlies were willing to give the Raptors multiple first-round picks for Anunoby, yet Ujiri turned them down. Masai isn’t going to make a trade for the sake of getting a deal done, but he is starting to overvalue his own assets and pass up on some very good moves.
If Barnes, Anunoby, and Siakam were all off the table, the best assets Ujiri could move were Gary Trent Jr, who reportedly did not like playing in Portland, and rookie Gradey Dick, who has as many NBA games under his belt as you and me. That’s not a serious Lillard package.
Toronto will have to make a move eventually, as losing names like Anunoby or Siakam for nothing in free agency would be a death knell for this franchise. Lillard would have sufficed, but Ujiri appeared to be unmoved.