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Rumors: Damian Lillard interested in playing with Ayton, Anunoby

2022 NBA Playoffs - 	Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 2: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks on before the game against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 2, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Portland Trail Blazers remain committed to retooling on the fly around Damian Lillard. They are expected to pay up and re-sign Anfernee Simons this offseason, but the door is wide open after that. Big changes are coming to the Pacific Northwest.

On the Dunc’d on Podcast with Nate Duncan, Bleacher Reports’ Jake Fischer threw out three players that Lillard wants to play with and the Trail Blazers are looking at: DeAndre Ayton, OG Anunoby, and John Collins (hat tip HoopsHype).

Ayton wants max money. The Suns are hesitant to pay that much, but other teams are expected to make Ayton a max offer — Portland could be one because “it seems like he’s another guy that Dame has interest in playing with,” Fischer said.

Is Ayton a fit with Lillard and the Blazers? He put up good numbers — 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game this season — but he was not consistent, especially in the playoffs. More concerning, he’s not a defensive stopper in the paint, which Portland may need with Lillard at the point.

Ayton to Portland — or, really anywhere except Detroit — would have to be a sign-and-trade, which would help the Suns recoup some value for losing their starting center. Toronto gets mentioned a lot around the league as a potential Ayton landing spot.

Rumblings about Anunoby wanting a larger role in Toronto — and feeling squeezed by Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes — have been floating around the league for a while. “I’m pretty aware from my conversations that Portland definitely is targeting OG (Anunoby), definitely someone that Lillard wants to pair with.”

Lillard, Simons and Ayton make an athletic perimeter in Portland, but is that a big enough role to make Anunoby happy?

Like Anunoby in Toronto, John Collins was frustrated with his role in Atlanta. Collins was mentioned in several trade rumors at the deadline last February, but the Hawks asking price was too steep for teams. “He’s definitely been mentioned as a Portland trade candidate,” Fischer said on the podcast. Collins would provide rim protection and athleticism up front for the Trail Blazers.

There are a lot of trade rumors floating around a very active Trail Blazers team this offseason. It will be interesting to see what moves they make, and if those are enough to build a contender in a very deep West and keep Lillard happy.