The Toronto Raptors have emerged as suitors in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes over the past few days, as they allegedly believe they can position themselves ahead of the Miami Heat and every other team in negotiations for the seven-time All-Star.
But a recent report indicates there’s a growing consensus around the NBA that Lillard will ultimately land in Miami.
FWIW – growing consensus from around league that Miami will indeed be destination for Dame. We’ll see.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) September 27, 2023
Lillard was selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA, all as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise.
He averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game as well as 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game across 58 appearances with the Trail Blazers during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts). Also, Lillard shot the ball with tremendous accuracy from the free-throw line, seeing as he converted 91.4 percent of his free-throw attempts.
Those numbers were good enough for Lillard to earn a spot on the All-NBA Third Team and be named an All-Star for the seventh time in his pro career.
But Lillard’s fantastic 2022-23 regular season didn’t translate into success for the Trail Blazers. They finished the regular season with a poor 33-49 record, ahead of only the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference standings. Portland ended up with a 17-24 home record and 16-25 road record.
The 6-foot-2 point guard has experienced limited postseason success in his decade-plus stint with the Trail Blazers. He’s reached the second round of the playoffs three times and the Western Conference Finals once, back in 2019.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors swept the Trail Blazers in that series. Lillard really struggled to score the ball efficiently during the 2019 Western Conference Finals, as he averaged 22.3 points per game but converted just 37.1 percent of his field-goal attempts in the series.
Despite Toronto’s seemingly legitimate interest in acquiring Lillard, this development indicates that it still seems only a matter of time until the floor general ends up getting dealt to the Heat. Here’s to hoping that Lillard will be donning a Heat jersey by the time the 2023-24 regular season tips off in October.