Damian Lillard trade suggestions are like light bills and armpits: everybody’s got ‘em. Today Michael Pina of The Ringer opened up one that’s sure to have Trail Blazers fans pressing their nose against the window like kids at Toys ‘R Us. Pina suggests that Lillard head northward to the Toronto Raptors for a package featuring forward Scotiie Barnes.
You can peruse the article for rationale behind the deal. The specifics are:
Raptors get: Damian Lillard, Nassir Little
Blazers get: Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young, Otto Porter Jr., Toronto’s unprotected first-round pick in 2028, and a pick swap in 2029
The trade seems far-fetched, for the number of players involved, if nothing else. Opinions on the 22-year-old Barnes are split. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 34.8 minutes per game for the Raptors last season but is not known as a defender and shot only 28.1% from the field. Some view him as a player who will eventually displace Pascal Siakam as the Raptors’ star. Others consider his future good, but not spectacular. Either way, he’s only entering his third NBA season, too soon to tell.
Though quantity supplants quality here, the suggestion does tick Portland’s supposed boxes of young talent and future picks. It’s also significant in that it raises another possibility, albeit unintentionally and in the penumbra.
Pina is right that the Raptors need guards. Acquiring Lillard is probably unrealistic, but Toronto is one of the few teams around the league who might covet the guards the Miami Heat have to offer in a Lillard trade: Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry.
Salary cap structure is the fly in the ointment there. The Raptors don’t have space and don’t have a ton of hefty contracts to part with. Barnes makes $8 million per year, Trent, Jr. $18.5 million. Lowry and Herro earn $29.7 million and $27 million, respectively. Clearly some kind of fourth-team wizardry and sweetening would come into play should Miami’s guards ever go north. But Toronto’s name shouldn’t be absent from these discussions entirely, if not directly for Lillard, at least somewhere in the circle of extended trade partners.