Weeks went without a single update regarding Damian Lillard’s status with the Portland Trail Blazers, aside from a report that there is a belief that Dame would only show up in training camp for his current team and the Miami Heat, a highly conspicuous threat to any other team that might try to trade for the 75th Anniversary Team point guard.
While Dame is seemingly no closer to a trade to the Miami Heat like he publicly demanded, there have been some significant reports that could get the ball rolling. ESPN’s Marc Spears went on record to say that he’s heard that there is an anonymous Eastern Conference Team that has held trade discussions centered around Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers.
There was plenty of debate about which organization could have possibly entered the fray, with several teams holding some kind of possible claim. Could it be the Philadelphia 76ers coming up with the ultimate contingency plan for James Harden’s expected departure? Perhaps it’s the Brooklyn Nets, who were rumored to have turned down an offer from the Blazers and General Manager Joe Cronin when they proposed a deal for up-and-coming wing, Mikal Bridges.
While fans speculated and debated why their team was the one that would land Dame, Action Network’s Matt Moore disclosed on a podcast that the mystery team was the Toronto Raptors.
Similar to the Nets, it was rumored that Toronto also spurned the Blazers and possibly aided in his ultimate decision to demand a trade out of Portland. After setting a ridiculous price for their veterans, could the Raptors be taking advantage of the domino effect they created by trying to bring Dame to the Great White North?
|Season||Damian Lillard’s salary|
Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri made a similar move when he traded with the San Antonio Spurs and landed Kawhi Leonard, who also had a specific team in mind for his next destination. Of course, this resulted in a championship for Toronto and Ujiri could certainly be trying to replicate his success.
The Raptors refusal to trade their key players in exchange for a reasonable price has had some notable backfires, such as losing Fred VanVleet in free agency this summer for nothing.
But Ujiri’s ridiculous asking price for OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and the other desired Raptors could have not only created a situation in which he could feasibly acquire Damian Lillard, but also ensured that he had the ammunition to pull off such a deal.
"I don't think the Heat are desperate at all to trade for Damian Lillard."
– Brian Windhorst
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 22, 2023
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| Title: Could the Toronto Raptors actually trade for Damian Lillard?
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Sept 24th, 2023