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Damian Lillard would be another big catch for the Raptors, but alone he doesn’t make sense

Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster have gone big-game searching earlier than, and so they landed the motherlode.

That after all was the summer season of 2018 and Kawhi Leonard was the final word catch. The outcome was a championship run, though it should be identified Leonard himself wasn’t the ultimate piece of the puzzle, simply the most important one.

Can they do it once more?

Nicely, for starters the situations aren’t fairly the identical, though there are similarities between Leonard’s departure from San Antonio and what seems to be an imminent Damian Lillard farewell from Portland.

The key distinction is Leonard and his staff had made it clear they weren’t coming again underneath any circumstances. Whether or not it was a mistrust within the San Antonio medical employees or simply too little belief left between participant and staff.

Toronto acquired him for a first-round choose, a perennial all-star in DeMar DeRozan and a younger and enhancing Jakob Poeltl.

Toronto acquired Leonard, an often-overlooked Danny Inexperienced, who was key in Toronto’s success that subsequent season and ultimately an NBA championship. Then all of it went away.

Lillard is each older and extra established than Leonard was when Toronto acquired him. At 33 he doesn’t precisely match with a contending timeline constructed round 22-year-old Scottie Barnes.

Lillard is expendable each as a result of it seems the Path Blazers have already made the choice to rebuild across the likes of Scoot Henderson and London, Ontario’s Shaedon Sharpe.

In fact, if Barnes is included within the deal, that timeline will get pushed up significantly with Lillard, Siakam (assuming he isn’t concerned within the commerce) now the focus of the staff.

The most typical names talked about in a deal that may convey Lillard to Toronto are that of O.G. Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. after which wage filler from among the many Raptors bench vets which included Thad Younger, Otto Porter Jr. and Garrett Temple Jr.

Future picks, with Toronto proudly owning all however a prime six protected first-round choose this 12 months to San Antonio as a part of the Poeltl commerce in addition to second-round picks subsequent 12 months to Memphis to shut out the Jonas Valanciunas/Marc Gasol swap and a second-round choose to Dallas in 2025 which was initially a part of the Raptors’ Poeltl commerce, will clearly be in play in a Lillard deal as effectively.

However once more, is that this a deal Ujiri desires? He has proven he’ll make even a troublesome deal (and buying and selling DeRozan was powerful) if it means it vaults his staff into competition. Does this deal do this?

By itself, most likely not however that doesn’t imply the Raptors can’t get there.

The Raptors can match the Lillard wage with a mixture of O.G. and Trent Jr.’s $18.6 million this season together with Otto Porter Jr’s $6.3. A fourth participant within the $2-million vary would get it completed together with some draft capital.

It will go away Toronto with a core of Lillard, Siakam, Barnes, Poeltl and Dennis Schroder.

The bench can be all the way down to Valuable Achiuwa, Chris Boucher, Thad Younger, newcomer Jalen McDaniels and holdovers Jeff Dowtin Jr., Malachi Flynn and veteran Garrett Temple Jr. together with a younger three-point menace in Gradey Dick.

It’s a stable lineup however can it deal with the likes of Phoenix, the place they boast Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and now Bradley Beal or Philly the place Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and, for now, James Harden nonetheless resides.

Leonard wasn’t the ultimate piece in 2019. That may become Gasol, who didn’t come low-cost both, costing the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a second rounder.

There’s even the possibility the Raptors might pry a chunk like Nassir Little out of Portland within the deal. The staff has proven curiosity in him earlier than and like Inexperienced, he would transfer the competition needle within the correct path. In fact, that may imply throwing Dick into the deal and another wage filler from the bench to make up for the $7 million Little will make this season

Both method, it’s not out of the query that even when Lillard isn’t he ultimate piece to competition he will get the Raptors nearer than they’ve been because the bubble season in Orlando.

However the different large variations between taking a shot with Lillard the way in which Ujiri and Webster took a shot with Leonard is Lillard arrives with 4 years’ value a complete of $216 million left on his deal, $121 million of that in his ultimate two seasons when he’ll be 35 and 36.

Leonard was on an expiring contract and was one and completed.

Leonard additionally arrived with the Raptors coming of a 55-plus win season. Lillard can be becoming a member of a staff coming off a disappointing 41-win season after they did not make the playoffs (play-in sport however).

By himself Lillard doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Raptors as they’re at the moment constructed and what they might hand over bringing him in.

But when now we have discovered something from Ujiri and his entrance workplace through the years, it’s that when he does get lively within the commerce market, it’s hardly ever simply to make one deal.

Keep tuned.

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