Latest On Raptors’ Interest In Damian Lillard

The Raptors are now the frontrunners to land Damian Lillard, two high-ranking executives told ESPN’s Marc Spears.

Reports of genuine interest by Toronto’s front office to land the perennial All-Star guard have surfaced in recent days. It’s almost been a foregone conclusion since Lillard requested a trade at the beginning of July that he would inevitably end up with the Heat, his preferred destination.

However, there haven’t been any substantial trade conversations between the Trail Blazers and Heat, according to Spears. Meanwhile, the Raptors have had recent conversations with the Blazers regarding Lillard, though there’s nothing imminent in terms a potential blockbuster deal.

That could change soon. Those same unnamed executives believe Lillard will be dealt before media day next Monday.

Toronto’s package could include some combination of Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and/or OG Anunoby. The Blazers are also highly interested in the Raptors’ first-round pick, Gradey Dick. The Heat initially offered a trade package that included Tyler Herro and two first-round draft picks, according to Spears’ sources.

While the Raptors front office has long admired Lillard, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports isn’t quite sure if it will go all-in on a 33-year-old point guard with a four-year contract worth upwards of $216MM. Lewenberg doubts the Raptors would include Barnes in any deal and doesn’t see the 29-year-old Siakam as a fit for the Blazers.

He speculates a Lillard package from the Raptors could include Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Dick, salary filler and multiple first-round picks. In that case, Toronto might need to lift the protections on the 2024 pick it sent to San Antonio in the deadline-day trade for Jakob Poeltl last February.

Whether Lillard would be happy to go north of the border is a major question mark. He believes he’d have a great shot at a ring by joining forces with Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The lack of a state tax in Florida, greater marketing potential and the Heat’s renowned culture also intrigue him, according to Spears.

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