The Damian Lillard saga is over after months of waiting and speculating where the All-Star guard would land.
The Toronto Raptors were in the mix to acquire Lillard, but he ultimately was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Usually when a blockbuster trade like this happens, more details come out about trade negotiations in the aftermath.
Sportsnet’s Michael Grange revealed the Raptors goals when constructing a trade package for Lillard.
It seemed that Toronto did not want to give up any of their core pieces when trying to acquire the 33-year-old:
“Per one Western Conference source, it’s believed the Raptors were hoping to construct a deal that would not include their core pieces — Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby or Scottie Barnes.”
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst confirmed this:
“I feel pretty strongly that there was some sort of offer from Toronto to Portland, I do not feel strongly however that OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, or Scottie Barnes were in that offer.”
— . (@GTJGotNext) September 28, 2023
With no Siakam, Anunoby or Barnes in any iterations of the Raptors’ trade package, that essentially eliminated their chances of acquiring Lillard. But Masai Ujiri took a chance anyway.
Now, the Raptors can focus on what’s next. What will they do with Siakam and Anunoby?
Anunoby is extension eligible for a four-year, $117 million contract. However, he can certainly earn more next summer in free agency by declining his player option. Will the Raptors give OG Anunoby what he wants?
Siakam is set to hit free agency as well, entering the final year of his deal. Will Toronto negotiate a new deal or trade him before or at the trade deadline this February?
As for Barnes he’s eligible for an extension too after the 2023-2024 season. He’ll have his eyes on the designated rookie max extension. The Raptors have to decide quickly, if is this is the core they want to invest in financially and roll with for years to come.
Did the Raptors make the right decision?
Lillard still has four-years, $220 million on his contract and it became clear that the guard did not want to play for Toronto.
It wouldn’t have made sense for the Raptors to give up assets and future picks for a player who didn’t want to be there.
Ultimately, the Raptors made the right decision by passing on Lillard, but now they have bigger decisions to make regarding the future of their team.
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