Another potential mystery team in trade talks for Lillard: Toronto Raptors
We’ve seen this movie before. A superstar asks for trade, has a list of teams he wants to go to, the Toronto Raptors ignore that list and take a massive risk on said superstar in hopes of winning a championship, even if he leaves and/or is unhappy.
The first time around, it was Kawhi Leonard, and it worked to perfection as Leonard did indeed lead Toronto to the 2019 NBA Title. Could Raptors President Masai Ujiri come out of nowhere off the top rope, surprise the league with a deal for Lillard and pull it off again?
Toronto doesn’t have as much to offer Portland as Brooklyn does, but its cupboard isn’t bare, either. The Raps owe their 2024 first-rounder to the San Antonio Spurs, but after that they control all their own first-round picks.
Pascal Siakam would likely have to head back to Portland to make the salaries work, which wouldn’t be ideal from a Blazers perspective, but a $37 million expiring contract could be useful for a rebuilding team, and an extra first could sweeten the deal enough to make it more attractive to the Trail Blazers.
The idea for the Raptors would be to add Lillard to the duo of OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes, both long, switchable defenders who could cover for Dame’s defensive weaknesses. Toronto’s most significant problem last season was a lack of offense and shot creation – that problem would be solved as soon as Lillard crosses the Canadian border.
Ujiri’s done it before; it’s not impossible for him to do it again, especially when considering Kawhi was a one-year rental while Dame is locked into a contract for four more seasons. It’s still risky, but less risky than the Leonard trade.