New York Knicks fans aren’t currently tormented over whether or not their favorite team will trade for Damian Lillard. That’s a role that Heat and Raptors fans find themselves in, as the three-month saga could soon end.
Andscape’s Marc Spears said on Monday’s episode of NBA Today that several GMs expect a trade to be done before Media Day, which, for most teams, will be held at the beginning of next week. Spears said Toronto was still viewed as the frontrunner to land the star guard, although there hadn’t been any traction on a deal.
As with everything else in the NBA, things can change at a moment’s notice. Based on the latest report from Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, the Heat have reemerged as the leaders in Lillard trade talks.
Which Damian Lillard trade outcome should Knicks fans be rooting for?
The bottom line is if Damian Lillard is traded into the Eastern Conference, it will affect the Knicks, whether he’s dealt to the Raptors or Heat. However, even though Miami lost Max Strus and Gabe Vincent this offseason, the Heat are expected to be one of the top teams in the conference, with or without Lillard. The same can’t be said for Toronto.
If Masai Ujiri traded for Lillard and managed to keep Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam out of the deal, the Raptors would jump from a play-in team to a contender. Otherwise, Toronto will likely assume its position toward the bottom of the East, especially after losing Fred VanVleet.
Lillard’s top destination has been Miami from the start, and it’s been reported that if he were to be traded elsewhere, he’d request another trade. That puts pressure on executives like Ujiri, who would be taking a gamble on losing assets for the 33-year-old guard. However, Lillard doesn’t come off as the type of player who will refuse to play until he gets what he wants.
The good news, at least for Lillard, is that the spotlight seems to be back on the Heat. A package centered around Tyler Herro hasn’t been enough to get a deal done, so if Lillard is traded to Miami, a third team will need to be looped in.
Damian Lillard suiting up for the Heat would shake up the East, but as tough as it might be to admit, from New York’s perspective, Miami would be a better landing spot than Toronto.