As training camp nears, Damian Lillard trade talks have picked up. While no discussions have neared an official deal so far, it seems like a deal could be completed soon. Lillard has openly expressed his desire to play for one team: the Miami Heat. However, the Portland Trail Blazers have been exploring options while essentially ignoring the Heat.
One Eastern Conference team has emerged as a potential suitor for Damian Lillard. The Toronto Raptors have serious interest in acquiring Dame, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.
If the Raptors aggressively pursue Lillard, it could spell bad news for the Heat’s chances of acquiring their star target. The best offer the Heat can make for Lillard is a package centered around Tyler Herro and draft picks. Meanwhile, the Raptors have many more assets to offer. Offering Scottie Barnes alone could top any offer Miami could make, but Toronto can also offer O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.
The Raptors could win the Lillard sweepstakes depending on what they are willing to offer. However, giving up too much would not make sense for the team. Giving up Siakam would likely take Toronto out of championship contention while giving up Barnes would mean sacrificing the centerpiece of their future. Considering the reports that Lillard would request another trade if he were to be traded to a place other than Miami, Toronto might be reluctant to give up too many assets in this scenario.
If history were to repeat itself, the Raptors would have no problem taking a chance on Lillard. The Raptors traded one of their franchise stars, DeMar DeRozan, to acquire Kawhi Leonard for the 2018-19 NBA season. Leonard was a disgruntled star in San Antonio and Toronto was not a destination on his radar. The Raptors won the 2019 championship led by Leonard, who left the team that summer.
Unlike Leonard then, Lillard has four years remaining on his contract. If the Raptors trade for him and it doesn’t work out, though, they could explore trading him after the season.
Still, if these reports are true, the Raptors might be willing to sacrifice their long-term viability to make a championship push. If they do acquire Lillard, the Heat would need to look for their next star elsewhere.