Even before the NBA draft arrived late last month, there were rumblings that the Raptors could look to trade forward Pascal Siakam—and almost as soon as those rumblings spread, teams with young assets like the Warriors, Clippers, Kings and Suns were said to be interested in bringing Toronto’s wayward big man to town.
Siakam had endured a season packed with tension between himself and coach Nick Nurse, which included a postgame locker-room argument in March. When the Raptors surprised most of the league and chose to draft forward Scottie Barnes, who projects to play the same position as Siakam, instead of guard Jalen Suggs, the Siakam speculation was ramped up further.
The Suns, in need of a power forward, would be an ideal fit for Siakam, if the Raptors were willing to take back a package built around picks and young players like Cam Johnson and Jalen Smith. Toronto could shift to rebuilding mode, and would want youth and picks — but would the Suns be able to get Siakam without giving up, say, Mikal Bridges? That would be difficult.
Alas, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the brakes should be pumped on the notion of Siakam being dealt out of Toronto anyway, with team president Masai Ujiri taking a patient approach with his young star. As Amick wrote:
It appears there is no uncomfortableness or pressure on the Siakam front, in large part, because sources say he still wants to be in Toronto, especially after being away for a season while playing in Tampa. … Sources say Ujiri has recently made it clear to Siakam’s side that he’s not being shopped, and that there’s a clear basketball vision here for how these pieces — old and new — can work.
Pascal Siakam Struggled Last Season
Siakam underwent an especially rough season last year, regressing from his breakout 2019-20 performance with drops in scoring (21.4 points), rebounds (7.2 per game), and 3-point shooting, which fell to 29.7% from 35.9%. He had been an All-Star in 2019-20.
The Raptors as a whole, too, underwent a bad year, beginning with the franchise’s forced move to Tampa from Toronto because of COVID-19. Toronto went from 53-19 the previous season to just 27-45, missing the playoffs and finishing with the NBA’s eighth-worst record. The Raptors were 2-9 to close the year.
Siakam played in only 56 games last year, missing a chunk of March because of COVID-19 issues. He had shoulder surgery in June, which is expected to keep him out for the start of the season—another factor preventing the Raptors from pushing for a trade now.
Last month, though, GM Bobby Webster said Siakam was progressing after surgery.
“Seen videos he’s starting to work on his range of movement and so by all accounts really positive for him,” Webster said.
Raptors Could Look to Trade Siakam During the Season
All of this is not to say Siakam won’t eventually be traded. Certainly, he will be a name worth watching going forward, as the Raptors try to determine their direction. Siakam is only 27 and just wrapped up the second year of a contract that has three more years left, at $100 million.
Still, there are indications that the Raptors will ultimately move on from Siakam, especially if Barnes is the team’s future big man. Toronto traded away star point guard Kyle Lowry in the offseason, bringing back another forward, Precious Achiuwa in the deal. The team could get Siakam back healthy, allow him to establish his value, then shop him before next year’s trade deadline.
The interest in a Siakam deal will remain. It’s just up to Toronto to put him on the market.