The Toronto Raptors are not Lillard's preferred destination — he wants to be dealt to the Miami Heat — but at least two NBA team executives view the Raptors as the "frontrunner" to acquire the seven-time All-Star, per ESPN insider Marc Spears.
"The hottest name I'm hearing right now is the Toronto Raptors," Spears reported on Monday. "I talked to two really high-ranking team executives today and they said that Toronto is the frontrunner and they wouldn't be surprised if he ended up in the Six."
Marc J Spears on Damian Lillard trades: 🗣
"The hottest name that I'm hearing right now.. is the Toronto Raptors...Talked to two really high ranking team executives... & they said that Toronto is the frontrunner... Right now, there is no trade imminent."pic.twitter.com/XUirB5dXBs
— Digits Hoops (@Digits3Hoops) September 25, 2023
Spears says a trade is not imminent, but noted Raptors president Masai Ujiri has a reputation of pulling the trigger on blockbuster moves if the price is right. It's unclear if Lillard would be happy in Toronto, but Spears believes the 33-year-old would at least report to the franchise and play.
"They've had several conversations with the Blazers and Masai Ujiri has history, he's not afraid of doing such deals," Spears said. "The expectation is Dame wants to be in Miami. If he does go to Toronto, Masai did this in 2018 with Kawhi Leonard, getting him from the San Antonio Spurs and the Raptors won their lone championship.
"With Dame, you've got a guy with three years left on his deal, he's known to be a professional. I know he would show up, I know he would play. Would he like being in Toronto? I think you'd have to get Drake to get in his ear a little bit. Toronto's a great city. Masai would surely be rolling the dice if he can get this to happen but right now it's really quiet and people are talking most about Toronto sneaking in there."
Spears's report comes on the heels of Yahoo Sports insider Jake Fischer's weekend article that named the Raptors as a "viable threat" to acquire Lillard. Fischer stated a trade would likely include Raptors forward OG Anunoby, plus draft compensation. Toronto reportedly has no intention of trading Scottie Barnes in the potential deal.
Adding Lillard may or may not be the right move for Toronto, but the rumors are certainly getting fans in a frenzy ahead of training camp.