The Damian Lillard trade rumors have been a hot topic of discussion this week after ESPN’s Marc J. Spears hinted that a mystery could get in on the Lillard sweepstakes.
The mystery team may have been revealed by Matt Moore of The Action Network who said the Raptors have shown interest.
The idea of the Raptors potentially trading for Damian Lillard has been floating around. Toronto trading for Lillard would likely mean them parting ways with Scottie Barnes.
However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe doesn’t see the Raptors moving on from him. He said on The Lowe Post podcast that he doesn’t think Toronto would consider moving Barnes in a deal for Damian Lillard:
"I don't think Toronto would consider moving Scottie Barnes in a Damian Lillard trade….If you didn't want to move him for Kevin Durant, I'm not sure you will move him for Damian Lillard."
— BASKETBALL ON 𝕏 (@BasketballOnX) September 21, 2023
Lowe brings up a good point. The Raptors didn’t want to include Scottie Barnes in any trade package for Kevin Durant last summer. Therefore it’s hard to imagine they’d be willing to send Barnes to Portland for Lillard.
Barnes is following a somewhat disappointing sophomore season but the potential is still clear. He’s entering his third season with the Raptors and should have an increased role on offense with Fred VanVleet departing to the Houston Rockets in free agency.
Barnes was the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year, so it’s hard to see the Raptors giving up on him this early. Also Damian Lillard has openly stated that he wants to go to Miami.
According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Damian Lillard would request a trade to the Miami Heat if he gets traded elsewhere:
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 20, 2023
If Lillard has his sights set on Miami, it wouldn’t be a smart idea for Toronto to trade for him.
Barnes enters his third season
All eyes will be on Barnes for his third season. The expectation amongst Raptors fans is that he will have a breakout year.
Barnes’ numbers flatlined last season as he averaged 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists. His shooting numbers dipped to 45.6 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from deep.
This will be a telling year on whether or not the Raptors can count on Barnes to be the future of this franchise.
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