The Damian Lillard trade front went radio silent for almost three months after his trade request was broken by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and other reporters. But there's been new smoke that's been gaining some steam in recent days regarding a potential Lillard trade. The latest has come from ESPN and Andscape reporter Marc Spears. Spears has reported that the Toronto Raptors are now seen as the frontrunners to land Lillard and not the Miami Heat, the team long presumed to be the favorite to land Lillard and the team Lillard has reportedly preferred to be traded to.
With this latest development in the Lillard trade saga, it begs the question: What does a potential Raptors trade offer look like? Would it make sense for both sides? Here's an offer the Raptors should present to the Blazers.
Why it makes sense for the Blazers
The Blazers are the ones that have to be satisfied with any offer to sell Lillard. This offer comes across as more than satisfactory. OG Anunoby is at minimum one of the best three-and-d wings in the NBA at 6-7, 232 pounds. He's a career 37.5% shooter from three. He also was just named to an All-Defensive team last season. He's one of the best defenders in the NBA and is still just 26-years old.
OG Anunoby's Turnover Generation Impact is elite pic.twitter.com/FvpcwMlo4f
— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) September 21, 2023
Anunoby has aspirations to be more offensively than just a three-and-d guy though. That's a bit tough to project with Anunoby's career 1.5-1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, but Anunoby does have a solid base as a playmaker and scorer off of drives and slashes to build upon.
Nice drive and kick by OG Anunoby, leading to the Gary Trent 3: pic.twitter.com/NFPQdlWlnD
— Itamar (@Itamar_17_10) October 9, 2022
But that isn't all the Blazers are getting. Gradey Dick is another 6-8 wing, but much more slender than Anunoby at 205 pounds. The Blazers have been stuck with less-than-inspiring play from their wings for years and is a big reason why they never were able to get over the hump with Lillard. But Anunoby and Dick can help. Dick is nowhere near the defender Anunoby is, but he fights and that effort with his size could be enough. Dick is at his best on the offensive end. He was one of the best shooters in the draft and is excellent at moving without the ball.
Gradey Dick dropped 21 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, and 2 STLS on 7-13 shooting & 5-9 from 3 yesterday.
Best shooter in the 2023 Draft. Can shoot off actions, in transition, & off the catch. Also showed his ability to attack close outs. His off-ball ability will translate well in the NBA. pic.twitter.com/Vv7TJ1Ajr8
— Israel (@iohandles) January 15, 2023
Add with two young wings three additional first-round picks and three first-round pick swaps and the Blazers are getting everything they could possibly want in a package for Damian Lillard. It's time to turn the page and move on to a new era spearheaded by Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe, and Anfernee Simons. Getting back Anunoby, Dick, picks and a couple more intriguing young players would be great for the Blazers' ensuing rebuild.
Why it makes sense for the Raptors
It wouldn't be farfetched to think that Damian Lillard would vault the Raptors back into an upper-echelon in the Eastern Conference that looks more tenuous than insurmountable. Boston drastically altered the makeup of their roster when they traded Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis. The Sixers are embracing chaos yet again with James Harden himself wanting a trade in a situation that could get ugly.
The Bucks flamed out in the playoffs last year and are only getting older around Giannis Antetokounmpo. If the Raptors are getting Lillard then that means the Miami Heat, who already lost Max Strus and Gabe Vincent in the offseason, aren't. The Cleveland Cavaliers got punked by the Knicks in the postseason. The Knicks' offense fell apart in their playoff loss to the Miami Heat.
So if the Raptors got Lillard… why couldn't they compete with those teams? The Raptors' +1.5 Net Rating last season was 12th in the NBA, per NBA.com. They'd be making a big upgrade on that mark, especially on offense. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes all have similar games offensively and that made for a sticky offense. Lillard brings a drastically different skillset that should mesh better with those two and improve Toronto's 28th place in three-point percentage last season.
What Damian Lillard would also bring is a direction. Pascal Siakam can be a free agent next offseason. They just let Fred Vanvleet walk for nothing and replaced him with a downgrade in Dennis Schroder after trading a first-round pick at the trade deadline for Jakob Poeltl. With Lillard, Toronto can re-sign Siakam and compete for the next three-to-four years and then hand the reigns to Scottie Barnes after. And with a young star like Barnes in tow, their odds of completely bottoming out are less than a typical all-in team. Sounds like a good deal.