The Damian Lillard trade saga has been dragged to another page lately, with the Toronto Raptors now emerging as a top suitor for the Portland Trail Blazers star. Masai Ujiri is no stranger to making risky moves for disgruntled stars, even though Toronto isn't particularly the preferred destination of some of the league's top players. In fact, that's the kind of bold move that won Toronto a championship when Ujiri traded for Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs back in 2018.
While Lillard has remained adamant that the Miami Heat is still his preferred landing spot, he is reportedly going to stay professional and report to whatever team acquires him. Will Ujiri actually push through with acquiring Lillard? To what lengths will he go in getting him to the Raptors?
The Raptors could very well still head into rebuild mode after the firing of Nick Nurse in the offseason and the departure of Fred VanVleet in free agency. Pascal Siakam has found himself in trade rumors and so has O.G. Anunoby — the only two remaining pieces from Toronto's championship roster in 2019. We will soon find out what Ujiri will do in terms of acquiring Lillard and which players he is willing to let go of in pursuit of the Blazers star. Will a blockbuster deal go down before training camp?
Regardless, let's take a look at some potential trade candidates for the Raptors entering the 2023-24 NBA training camp.
1. Gary Trent Jr.
One potential trade candidate for the Toronto Raptors heading into training camp is Gary Trent Jr.
He found himself in the rumor mill during this past season's trade deadline, but the Raptors ultimately kept him. Many speculated he would enter unrestricted free agency and test his current value in the market, but he opted to pick up his $18.5 million player option for the 2023-24 season.
With the move, Trent figures to command a larger payday by next summer. Toronto is reportedly working with him on a potential extension. If the Raptors aren't willing to pay up for him, they may want to get value out of the 6-foot-5 guard by trading him instead of letting him walk away for free.
Trent could very well be a piece they include in a package for Damian Lillard, who will make over $45 million this upcoming season. Likewise, he could be a piece they could use to gain more assets, should Masai Ujiri choose to embark on a rebuild. The Raptors could get a first-round or some second round picks along with some other young pieces should they opt to deal him before training camp.
Trent is just 24 years old and is still developing his game as a microwave scorer. Last season, he averaged 17.4 points while shooting over 43 percent from the field and nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc.
2. O.G. Anunoby
Another Raptors trade candidate ahead of training camp is O.G. Anunoby.
Like Trent, Anunoby has seen his name pop up on trade rumors lately, especially during the offseason. The 6-foot-7 wing is one of the best 3-and-D players in the NBA. But over the last couple of years, Anunoby has added some elements to his offensive game that has made him a decent shot creator off the dribble. Nonetheless, should the Raptors make him available via trade, there should be plenty of teams lining up to acquire him from Toronto.
If Toronto pursues Lillard, Portland will most certainly ask for Anunoby in the package that brings the Blazers star north of the border. In fact, these two — Anunoby and Trent — will likely be the centerpieces in any trade package for Dame.
Many thought Anunoby would be included in the trade that landed Kawhi Leonard. But Ujiri got away without including him in the deal. Portland will likely not let that happen as Anunoby is still a promising young stud in the NBA and could be a nice piece the team can pair with Scoot Henderson as they embark on a rebuild. The Blazers could also feature him in a bigger role and raise his value in the event that they eventually flip him in a future trade.
Like Trent, Anunoby could also get traded in case Toronto goes into rebuild mode. Contending teams could always use a high-level 3-and-D player like Anunoby whom they can use to be the primary defender against some of the league's top wing and perimeter players. The Raptors should be able to net some draft capital in an Anunoby deal in this scenario.