Damian Lillard was not traded over the summer, and a new reported “front-runner” emerged Monday to acquire the Portland Trail Blazers star.

Lillard requested a trade on July 1, and he reportedly had the Miami Heat as his preferred destination. However, with training camp and NBA preseason approaching, both sides have not had “substantial trade conversations” since that request was made, according to ESPN’s Marc Spears.

Portland general manager Joe Cronin publicly stated his team will exercise patience. The Heat offered a package that included Tyler Herro and two first-round picks, according to Spears. But that apparent wasn’t enough for the Blazers.

The longer Miami waits, the more opportunity there would be for another team to swoop in, which reportedly happened this week with the Toronto Raptors emerging as the “front-runners” to land Lillard, according to Spears.

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“While the Raptors have had recent conversations with the Blazers about Lillard, no pact was close to being imminent as of Monday morning, according to a source,” Spears wrote.

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Lillard rejected other options outside of Miami, including the Boston Celtics. So it’s unknown what the 33-year-old’s reaction would be if he was traded to Toronto. However, president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is very familiar with one-year rentals. Kawhi Leonard’s lone year in Toronto yielded the franchise its first NBA championship in the 2018-19 season.

Ujiri again could take the risk of trading for a star with very little hope he stays, but if Lillard does get traded to the Raptors, that would be a huge win for the Celtics.

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Miami was on the edge of the NBA title last season, but Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets’ depth proved to be too much. The Heat made the conference finals in three out of the last four seasons, and heading into this season, Lillard could have been that final piece to get them over the top.

The Raptors failed to reach the same success of their championship season since Leonard left, and Nick Nurse was fired this offseason. NBA analysts aren’t sure what to expect from new head coach Darko Rajaković. But given the state of Toronto’s roster, Lillard will make it good but not much better than Boston, especially if the Raptors part ways with their promising young players.

“A Raptors offer could include a package featuring players from a roster that includes two-time NBA All-Star Pascal Siakam, 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, forward O.G. Anunoby — who is eligible for a contract extension — and rookie sharpshooter Gradey Dick. The Blazers are intrigued about adding a young 6-foot-8 sharpshooter in Dick,” a source told Spears.

Spears also reported a trade is expected before media day, which is Oct. 2 for most NBA teams.

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Toronto would be making an aggressive push to return to relevancy if it trades for Lillard but letting go of two out of those four names Spears mentioned would hurt the team’s depth and shouldn’t make them strong contenders against the Celtics.

Boston certainly does have its own question marks when it comes to defense, head coach Joe Mazzulla and Kristaps Porzingis’ health. But on paper, Jayson Tatum is poised to continue his ascension as one of the league’s top players, and if the Heat aren’t able to land Lillard, that’s one less obstacle for Boston to worry about.

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