Who Raptors Might Pursue After Damian Lillard Eludes Them

Who Raptors Might Pursue After Damian Lillard Eludes Them
By Mark Keast
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The superstars run the NBA these days, which is likely what pushed the Milwaukee Bucks to make a blockbuster trade on Wednesday. Milwaukee acquired All-Star point guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers in the biggest move of the offseason.

The Toronto Raptors had been talked about as a possible suitor for Lillard. So where does this leave the Raptors and their odds at Ontario betting sites?

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Why Bucks Made Lillard Trade

Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had made it clear to the Bucks that he expected them to do whatever was needed to stay in the NBA championship conversation, the implication being that he would head someplace else if the Bucks didn’t deliver. The Lillard trade was the Bucks delivering.

Phoenix was also involved in the three-team trade. Lillard went to Milwaukee, with Portland getting Jrue Holiday, DeAndre Ayton, and Toumani Camara. The Suns picked up Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson and Grayson Allen. The Blazers also gained draft picks.

The Raptors – who have odds between +8000 and +15000 at Ontario sports betting apps for the 2023-24 NBA title – reportedly were also in on serious Lillard talks. Michael Grange of Sportsnet reported Thursday that Toronto was trying to get a deal done for Lillard without giving up key pieces in Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Scottie Barnes. That would have meant trading a boatload of draft picks, and likely Gradey Dick, Toronto’s No. 13 overall selection from this summer’s NBA Draft.

So where do the Raptors go from here? Training camps starts Oct. 3 in Burnaby, British Columbia and the first of four preseason games set for Oct. 8 against Sacramento in Vancouver. Toronto opens its regular season Oct. 25 at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves (the Raptors are a 1.5-point favorite at BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook).

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Raptors Must Refocus After Missing On Lillard

The Raptors took a big swing, because the impact of Lillard on that current core would have put Toronto in the championship conversation. Now they’ll focus back on contract extensions for Anunoby and Siakam, once they see how everyone blends into new coach Darko Rajakovic’s offence.

If it doesn’t look like they are getting traction on getting those two players extended, and the team stumbles like last season, it’s going to get very interesting around trade deadline next February. As Grange said, the Raptors don’t have any issues giving up trade capital in trades for big names. Anunoby’s deal runs out at the end of this season; he’d be key in any trade deadline deal.

The Bucks’ championship futures saw a big shift, understandably. PointsBet Ontario Sportsbook has the Bucks favored at 4.75 decimal odds, followed by the Celtics at 6.00, the Nuggets at 6.50 and the Suns 7.00. The Raptors are at 126.00 there.

BetMGM has Milwaukee at 5.00, ahead of Denver (5.75), Boston (6.00) and Phoenix (7.50). The Raptors are way down at 101.00. BetMGM has Toronto at 2.20 to make the NBA’s Play-In Tournament, and Barnes to win Most Improved Player of the Year at 17.00.



Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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