Trail Blazers pursuing trade for Raptors’ OG Anunoby

The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly “in pursuit” of a trade for Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, and are willing to include the seventh overall pick in the NBA Draft as part of a deal.

No other elements of a hypothetical trade were mentioned. However, a lottery pick may not be enough to even create the basis of framework of a deal for Anunoby, a coveted member of the Raptors’ core rotation who, at 24, has already proven he can perform under the post-season spotlight.

“What are the chances that anyone in the 4-to-8 [draft pick] range will be ever be better than Anunoby is now, let alone two or three years from now when accounting for Anunoby’s upside,” Sportsnet’s Michael Grange wrote this week.

Though Anunoby was once again hampered by injuries last season, appearing in just 48 games, his on-court production remained solid when healthy. He averaged a career-high 17.1 points per game and shot 36.3 percent from three-point range on a career-best 6.6 attempts from distance. Compounding his value is his contract, as he is not even halfway through the four-year, $72-million extension he signed in 2020 — which also includes a player-option for 2024-25.

That blend of potential and production is, likely, worth more to the Raptors than a package centered on a pick outside the top three of the draft. Prior reporting from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggested that Anunoby’s trade value was seen as “greater than Detroit’s known asking price for Grant: two first-round picks or a first and a promising rookie-scale prospect.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Trail Blazers reportedly traded for Grant, sending a protected 2025 first-round pick and additional draft assets to the Pistons for his services. Adding Grant, who is set to make almost $21 million next season, would not prevent the Trail Blazers from pursuing Anunoby.

Still, a glance at the Trail Blazers roster does not reveal many immediately enticing targets for the Raptors to take back in a trade. Josh Hart had a respectable season last year, averaging just under 15 points on 50 per cent shooting across 54 games. But at 27, he does not meet the criteria of a “promising rookie-scale prospect,” nor is it easy to envision the combination of his contributions and whoever the Raptors drafted eclipsing Anunoby.

Position-wise, Hart fails to fill the Raptors’ uncertainty at centre, too, raising questions about how any deal with Portland can make Toronto markedly better — even if Anunoby was adamant about wanting to be dealt.

But even that is disputed. Portland’s interest does mark the latest rumor centered on Anunoby’s availability, with much of the noise stemming from a late May report by Fischer that said he was dissatisfied with his role in Toronto’s rotation.

In subsequent reporting, Fischer has noted that the conversation around Anunoby “has been driven more by external interest in acquiring” his services, rather than an internal schism between the fifth-year forward and the team.

According to Grange, the extent to which Anunoby is less-than-satisfied is thought to be overstated.

Scottie Barnes, Anunoby’s teammate on the Raptors, echoed the sentiment recently while live streaming himself playing NBA2K, saying it was “sickening” that Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer had reported Anunoby might want to be traded. Earlier in June, Barnes also commented on an Instagram post aggregating rumors of Anunoby’s dissatisfaction, writing that a “close source” told him it was “bad news.”

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