Source – Raptors are currently the frontrunners for Damian Lillard

The Toronto Raptors are entering this week as the front-runners to trade for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, two high-ranking NBA team executives told ESPN’s Endscape.

While the Raptors have had recent talks with the Blazers about Lillard, according to a source, no agreement was close to being reached as of Monday morning.

On July 1, ESPN reported that Lillard had requested a trade with the Miami Heat, his preferred destination. In the nearly three months since that request became public, there have been no significant trade talks between the two teams, sources said.

The Heat offered a trade package that included sharpshooter Tyler Herro and two first-round picks, a source said.

The Raptors offer could include a package involving players on the roster that includes two-time NBA All-Star Pascal Siakam, 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, forward OG Anunoby, who is eligible for a contract extension, and rookie Sharpshooter Grady Dick is involved. , The Blazers are eager to add Dick, a young 6-foot-8 sharpshooter, a source said.

Two NBA executives said they expect Lillard to be traded before media day, which is Oct. 2 for most teams, including the Blazers, Heat and Raptors. Practice starts from the next day.

Along with Toronto and Miami, the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls have shown interest since Lillard’s initial trade request. Regardless of whether Lillard is traded or still comes to media day in Portland, a source said he is not expected to be a media day or training camp holdout.

Raptors president and vice president Masai Ujiri showed with his previous acquisition of Kawhi Leonard that he is not afraid to trade for an NBA star who may be reluctant about playing in Toronto. Ujiri got Leonard in a 2018 trade with the San Antonio Spurs, and Leonard led the Raptors to their only NBA title in 2019, winning Finals MVP honors. Unlike Leonard, who left Toronto for his hometown LA Clippers in 2019, Lillard still has three more years remaining on his contract to be paid $45 million next season.

Lillard is attracted to the Heat because the defending Eastern Conference champions have title potential and they have two stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with whom he wants to team, sources have said. Additionally, according to sources, the work ethic and discipline that comes with the famous “Heat culture” and the lack of state taxes and greater marketability in Florida are also of interest to Lillard.

The 33-year-old guard has spent his entire career in Portland after being selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft. A seven-time All-Star, Lillard was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

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