NBA Trade Rumors: Raptors are a Scottie Barnes offer away from landing Damian Lillard

Toronto Raptors Scottie Barnes (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors Scottie Barnes (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

NBA Trade Rumors: It’s becoming abundantly clear that if the Toronto Raptors offer Scottie Barnes to the Portland Trail Blazers, they’ll land Damian Lillard.

This could finally be the week that Damian Lillard is traded.

If the Portland Trail Blazers are serious about trading Lillard before the start of training camp, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be, there’s a good chance that this trade saga could be over sooner rather than later. While the Miami Heat are Lillard’s reported preferred landing spot, the two sides have not made much, if any, traction on a deal.

That has opened the door for other teams to jump in. One dark horse that appears as one of the most likely non-Heat landing spots for Lillard is the Toronto Raptors. According to a recent report from NBA veteran reporter Marc Stein, the word around the league is the Raptors’ interest in Lillard is “genuine.” The Raptors are not just a negotiating tactic for Blazers general manager Joe Cronin.

Adding to that report, there’s a sense around the league that if the Raptors are willing to include Scottie Barnes in any offer for Lillard, the deal will likely go through. That means that Toronto could very well be on the cusp of stealing Lillard away from the Heat – if they’re willing to trade Barnes, of course, which is no guarantee.

Trading for Damian Lillard would be a big risk for the Toronto Raptors

However, it’s not that easy of a decision for the Raptors. Trading Scottie Barnes (and draft capital) for Lillard likely means pivoting away from the future. It’s essentially betting on a core of Lillard, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam winning a title in the next 1-2 seasons. And that’d be far from a guarantee.

While that would be a competitive trio, there’s no guarantee it’d be better than what the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks will be entering the season with.

Not to mention the fact that Lillard reportedly doesn’t want to play in Toronto. I can’t imagine that Lillard wouldn’t show up if traded there, but there’s at least a chance he wouldn’t be a happy camper. And the last thing that Toronto needs is to acquire a player that may or may not want to be there. Even less so considering they’d be mortgaging their future in the process.

It’s certainly a tough decision. However, considering the Raptors essentially refused to trade Barnes for Kevin Durant last summer, I can’t imagine they’ve completely changed that stance in a matter of a year. That wouldn’t make sense. But, who knows? Maybe Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri believes this is his last real shot to win a title in Toronto before a complete rebuild arises?

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In that case, such a desperate general manager would be the complete nightmare of the Miami Heat.