For much of the past two months since Damian Lillard made his bombshell trade request to the Portland Trail Blazers, it seemed like a trade to the Miami Heat was inevitable, for this was Lillard's preferred destination. But in the final hour, the Toronto Raptors, based on the rumor mill, had usurped every team that was in the sweepstakes, emerging as a surprising frontrunner for the floor general's services before the Milwaukee Bucks pulled off the unthinkable.
While Raptors president Masai Ujiri doesn't want his team's involvement in trade talks for the newest Bucks star to be blown out of proportion, there was a time where Lillard thought that he was headed north of the border, thanks to OG Anunoby's jokester ways.
Speaking to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report on media day, the Bucks star revealed that he was almost bamboozled that he was going to be a member of the Raptors organization.
“I mean, obviously, I didn't know what was [going on]. Everything was up in the air. And I was on the phone and I just got a random text from OG [Anunoby], like, ‘Welcome to Toronto,'” Lillard said. “He always messin' around like joking and stuff like that, we train together in the summer, a lil' bit. […] Lemme call this dude and see. And I finally called him, he didn't answer, then he called me back, he was laughing.”
“It just caught me off guard. He always playing like that.”
The prank Raptors forward OG Anunoby pulled on Bucks star Damian Lillard that shocked him days before actual trade: “Welcome to Toronto.” pic.twitter.com/kSJ4WAAIKv
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 3, 2023
Given how much smoke there was to the fire that was the Damian Lillard to the Raptors rumors, it's no surprise that the Bucks star was caught off guard to this degree. Of course, any trade that would have brought Lillard to Toronto almost certainly would have involved OG Anunoby going to the Pacific Northwest, so it would have been odd anyway for Anunoby to be the one doing the welcoming.
At this point, it remains unclear which direction the Raptors will take in terms of roster-building, while Lillard will be thanking his lucky stars that he landed with the Bucks, as he now has as good a chance as any to win his elusive ring alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.