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NBA · 2 months ago

Are the Toronto Raptors Front-Runners for Damian Lillard?

Zachary Cook

Zachary Cook

Are the Toronto Raptors Front-Runners for Damian Lillard?

The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly looking to get a Damian Lillard trade done before training camp. Are the Toronto Raptors the front runners for his services?

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Raptors Interest

Hearing that the Toronto Raptors are interested in Lillard shouldn’t surprise anyone. This is the Raptor way and exactly what they must do to get over the top in the modern NBA. Where things get interesting is that it’s being reported the Raptors are the front runners to land Lillard, at least from some reputable outlets.

Masai Ujiri has made this type of deal before; look no further than Kawhi Leonard. That franchise-altering deal landed the Raptors the franchise’s first NBA championship. Even though Leonard departed in free agency, the move will go down as the best in franchise history. Lillard may not be on the same level in terms of overall impact as Leonard, but he undoubtedly has game-changing skills that the Raptors need.

Toronto is reportedly not interested in trading Scottie Barnes in a Lillard deal, and the package would likely revolve around a plethora of draft picks and O.G. Anunoby as a centerpiece. 

Which Teams Are in the Mix

It’s no secret that the Miami Heat is Lillard’s preferred destination. Still, other teams are in the mix, and it was clear that NBA commissioner Adam Silver wasn’t happy about Lillard trying to stronghold his way to the Heat. 

Other teams reportedly in contention are the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets. There’s always a chance that other teams get involved in the discussion. 

Conclusions to Draw

It’s hardly a secret that the Toronto Raptors are known to use disgruntled players’ trade requests as a type of “free agency” to lure them to town. By most accounts, the Raptors aren’t attracting star players to come to Toronto in free agency. However, that doesn’t stop them from being in many different conversations to acquire star players around the league.

If the Raptors believe that acquiring Lillard makes them a true NBA title contender, this is a move that makes a lot of sense for them to make. Convincing Lillard to want to play in Toronto will undoubtedly take some work, but if Masai and company can do it for Kawhi, we’re not counting them out to do the same for the Trail Blazers star guard. The Raptors like to work in silence with these types of trades, meaning the fact this got out is noteworthy. The clock is ticking on a Lillard trade, and the Raptors are well-positioned to be a potential landing spot. 

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