NBA Rumors: Raptors' Scottie Barnes is unavailable in Damian Lillard trade talks
The Toronto Raptors have emerged as the shocking frontrunner for Damian Lillard. With a trade expected within the next few days, Toronto will look to stave off other competitive bids to land the 33-year-old point guard on Canadian soil.
There is definite risk involved in Toronto potentially acquiring Lillard, though. He has made it plain that he would be unhappy with such a trade. He's a professional, and ESPN insider Marc J. Spears expects him to show up and perform wherever he is dealt, but Toronto would be trading for a disgruntled employee at the tail end of his prime.
That's why it should come as no surprise that Scottie Barnes is off the table. In fact, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, Barnes isn't even "in the same room as the table."
Barnes was the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He won Rookie of the Year and has emerged as the crown jewel of Toronto's youth movement. Pascal Siakam is the team's best player, but Barnes might be the most valuable asset. The Raptors have the draft capital and players (lookin' at you, O.G. Anunoby) to get a deal across the finish line without bringing Barnes into the mix.
The goal for Toronto is plain — a 'big three' of Lillard, Siakam, and Barnes. There's a lot of balance there. Lillard as the 3-point bomber and perimeter initiator, Siakam as the downhill slasher, and Barnes as the do-it-all connective tissue. Barnes' playmaking instincts and defensive versatility would be well suited to such a complementary role. Toronto would be quite compelling on paper.