There's still no doubting where Damian Lillard wants to continue his career. As the Portland Trail Blazers engage in trade talks with every team interested in the seven-time All-Star but the Miami Heat, though, two other suitors have emerged as realistic destinations.
“At this juncture, Toronto and Chicago have been the two possible destinations for Lillard discussed most by league figures,” Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports reported on Friday.
Both the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls had been previously mentioned as having eyes for Lillard. Unsurprisingly, it appears the Raptors are a more likely landing spot for the stranded Blazers superstar than the Bulls. Why? Toronto's superior cache of assets.
“There are plenty of avenues to evaluate, which makes the Raptors one of, if not the most viable threats to land Lillard outside of the Heat — similar to the Cavaliers’ surprise acquisition of Donovan Mitchell last September,” Fischer reported. “…Any deal with Toronto could include recent first-round selection Gradey Dick, sources said, just like then-rookie wing Ochai Agbaji and then-rookie center Walker Kessler both functioning as additional draft compensation in Utah’s returns for Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, respectively, last offseason.”
Off-limits in the Raptors' trade talks for Lillard is third-year forward Scottie Barnes, according to Fischer. Toronto is reportedly more likely to use O.G. Anunoby as the on-court centerpiece and necessary salary ballast in any trade framework than Pascal Siakam, whose age and status as an impending free agent makes him a less attractive option for Portland.
Likewise, the Blazers reportedly aren't “keen” on acquiring Zach LaVine in a potential Lillard trade with Chicago. He's not only a bit old for Portland's rebuilding timeline, but would also present positional and stylistic redundancies with young franchise cornerstones Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe.
All momentum suggests Lillard will be moved by the time the Blazers tipoff training camp on October 2nd. Buckle up for more and more intel to come. For better and worse, the NBA rumor mill won't stop churning until a Lillard deal is finally completed.