Damian Lillard Trade Rumors: Toronto Raptors Emerge as Front-Runners

Posted on: September 27, 2023, 12:04h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2023, 01:53h.

The Toronto Raptors are interested in acquiring seven-time NBA All-Star guard Damian Lillard in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Trail Blazers Damian Lillard Raptors Pascal Siakam
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0), seen here defended by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43), is the subject of trade rumors involving the Raptors. (Image: USA Today Sports)

ESPN’s Marc Spears reported that the Trail Blazers intend to trade Lillard before the NBA’s Media Day, slated for October 2.

Lillard, 33, averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.8 rebounds for the Trail Blazers in the 2022-23 season. The Trail Blazers were 33-49 last season and missed the playoffs. They secured the #3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and considered trading it for veteran wing players. Instead, they kept the third pick and selected point guard Scoot Henderson.

Lillard requested a trade after the draft, and the Trail Blazers are trying to accommodate his wish. Lillard indicated he wanted to join the Miami Heat in a trade, but the two teams reached an impasse this summer while attempting to negotiate a deal.

Other teams from the Eastern Conference, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls, were curious about adding Lillard in a trade. Yet none of those teams made a serious pitch to the Trail Blazers in the off-season.

Lillard to Heat Chatter Cooled Down

The Trail Blazers were initially seeking four first-round draft picks for Lillard. The Heat were willing to send a pair of first-round draft picks and guard Tyler Herro to the Trail Blazers to complete a Lillard trade. The Trail Blazers rejected the Heat’s initial offer because they would rather have draft capital over Herro.

Herro is a former Sixth Man of the Year who started for the Heat this past season. The Heat shopped Herro to other teams, hoping to secure a first-round pick in return. That would be used to sweeten their trade offer to the Trail Blazers to include a trio of first-round picks. However, they were unable to work out a deal for Herro.

Herro’s trade stock dipped after the Heat advanced to the NBA Finals without him when he fractured his hand in the first round of the playoffs. The Denver Nuggets only needed five games to defeat the Heat and win their franchise’s first NBA championship.

Even though the Raptors are getting a lot of attention this week, the Heat are the betting favorite to land Lillard in a trade at -250 odds, according to a prop bet from DraftKings.

In the last 72 hours, the Raptors saw an uptick in their Lillard trade odds. They’re now +400 odds to acquire Lillard as the second favorite on the board at DraftKings.

Raptors Emerge as New Favorite in Lillard Trade

While trade talks with the Heat fizzled, the Raptors emerged as the front-runners to add Lillard. The Eastern Conference is wide open next season, and the Raptors could move into the middle of the pack if they add Lillard. The Raptors would love to pair Lillard with All-Star forward Pascal Siakam, who has also been the subject of trade rumors.

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes won the 2022 Rookie of the Year but struggled in his second season last year. The Trail Blazers would love to acquire Barnes, but the Raptors said he’s unavailable.

Forward OG Anunoby is the centerpiece of any potential trade for Lillard. The Trail Blazers would most likely trade Anunoby since they already have forward Jerami Grant on their roster.

The Raptors can offer the Trail Blazers a trade package that includes multiple first-round picks in 2028 and 2030, plus two pick swaps. The Raptors would also have to include Anunoby, incoming rookie guard Gradey Dick from Kansas (the #13 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft), and a couple of veterans with expiring contracts.

Power forward/center Thaddeus Young, forward Otto Porter, and shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. each have one year remaining on their contracts with the Raptors. Backup forward Chris Boucher has two years left on his current deal.

Suns Seek 3-Team Deal

The Trail Blazers were mentioned in other trade rumors involving Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.

The Suns were active in the off-season and traded point guard Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards for All-Star guard Bradley Beal. The Suns would like to part ways with Ayton, the #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, who signed a max-contract extension last off-season.

The Trail Blazers are interested in Ayton, while the Suns are keen on Portland’s big man, Jusuf Nurkic. This potential big-man swap could facilitate a Lillard trade with the Raptors.

The latest trade rumor of Phoenix suggests the Suns could acquire Anunoby and Nurkic in a three-team deal. The Raptors would add Lillard and forward Jabari Walker, and the Trail Blazers would receive Ayton, Dick, Trent, Young, and two first-round draft picks from the Raptors.

Two-team trades are difficult enough to negotiate, but multiteam trades are even more problematic. That’s why a three-team deal for Lillard is a long shot. There’s a greater chance the Suns and Trail Blazers work out a deal for Ayton after they finally trade Lillard.

The Suns are +650 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship, and they’re third overall on the futures board behind the defending champion Denver Nuggets (+475) and the Boston Celtics (+500). The Heat are +900 odds to win the title, and they’re fifth on the board.

The Raptors are +8000 odds to win the 2023-24 championship, but their futures will see a huge spike if they can pull off a trade for Lillard.

The Trail Blazers are a long shot to win the championship at +25000 odds. Only six teams have longer title odds than the Trail Blazers, who are projected to finish in last place in the Northwest Division.