Toronto raptors emerge as surprising contenders in damian lillard trade saga

26.09.2023 posted by Admin

Toronto raptors surging bid for damian lillard

Damian Lillard's desire to play for the Miami Heat may have been widely known, but recent developments in trade talks suggest a new front-runner. According to reports from NBA insiders, the Toronto Raptors have emerged as serious contenders in their pursuit of Lillard. In fact, Marc Stein has indicated that the Raptors have convinced the league of their genuine interest in acquiring Lillard. ESPN's Marc Spears even goes so far as to call the Raptors the most talked-about team regarding Lillard's future, predicting that a deal could materialize before the Portland Trail Blazers' media day on October 2nd. Remarkably, despite his preference for the Heat, Lillard is expected to honor any commitment to the Raptors if a deal comes through.

Lillard initially expressed his desire for a trade back in July, with his agent, Aaron Goodwin, making it abundantly clear that Miami was his preferred destination. This situation is reminiscent of the Raptors' past endeavors, where they successfully acquired superstar Kawhi Leonard in 2018 despite his initial desire to join a team in Los Angeles. Eventually, Leonard did head to the Clippers in 2019, but not before securing an NBA championship for Toronto.

However, it's important to note that Lillard's circumstances differ substantially from Leonard's. While Leonard was on an expiring contract, Lillard has three guaranteed seasons left on his current deal. This provides the Raptors with a more extended window to assemble a competitive team around him. Nevertheless, Lillard's age, at 33, places added pressure on Toronto to build a winning squad promptly.

The specifics of a potential trade between Toronto and Portland remain unclear. Nonetheless, there are two primary players who could be central to any deal. The first is Scottie Barnes, who seems to be the preferred choice for the Trail Blazers. Barnes, the 2022 Rookie of the Year, would offer Portland a long-term forward to complement their young guards, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe. Notably, the Raptors were reportedly reluctant to part with Barnes even when considering a trade for Kevin Durant last offseason. Moreover, Barnes's rookie-scale contract would necessitate significant additional assets to match salaries in a trade, potentially complicating matters.

The alternative centerpiece in a potential deal is OG Anunoby, a more established forward who is reportedly seeking more opportunities as a ball-handler. Portland could potentially provide him with such opportunities, given his defensive prowess and shooting ability, which would complement Henderson and Sharpe. However, Anunoby is on an expiring contract, meaning that the Blazers would need to be confident in their ability to re-sign him. High-caliber wings like Anunoby are rarely available in trade discussions.

While no trade is imminent, the Trail Blazers' media day is approaching rapidly. If Portland genuinely intends to move Lillard before the start of training camp, the clock is ticking. Toronto may currently hold the lead in the race for Lillard, but there is still time for other teams to enter the fray and potentially secure the services of the star point guard.
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