Rarely has a day gone by this offseason without a trade rumour linking Pascal Siakam to another NBA team. The 27-year-old forward has been linked to the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and several other teams.
Siakam became an avatar for everything wrong with the Raptors last year. His season was defined by a series of late-game misses, which sent the team into an early-season hole that it never climbed out of. The former All-Star and Most Improved Player was benched in Toronto’s first win of the season and reportedly fined later in the year after a post-game exchange with Nick Nurse (the team ).
In recent weeks, the team has publicly acknowledged the trade rumours. Bobby Webster refuted them. Masai Ujiri at his press conference. Last week, Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar said a trade from Toronto is the last thing .
While there is plenty of posturing from all sides regarding trade rumours, the biggest reason to believe Siakam isn’t going anywhere has nothing to do with his relationship with the team or anything sentimental (ask DeMar DeRozan if the front office cares about that). The Raptors are simply not going to entertain a Pascal Siakam trade right now because he is not appropriately valued in the trade market.
The proposed trades include players like James Wiseman and CJ McCollum as centrepieces coming back to Toronto. With all due respect to those players, Siakam averaged 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists last season in what was considered a down year.
The numbers don’t erase real concerns about his crunch-time offence, his consistency on a night-to-night basis, his drop in three-point percentage (29.7 percent last season after hovering around 35 percent the previous two years), and where he fits with the new-look Raptors. But Toronto isn’t in a hurry to move its starting forward, especially not for below value.
Except for having to attach draft picks to get rid of DeMarre Carroll’s contract, the Raptors have always operated from a position of strength when it comes to the trade market under Masai Ujiri’s watch. They’ve also always exercised patience and not allowed the market to dictate the value of their players.
Siakam underwent shoulder surgery in June to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and is expected to be out until November. How he performs in what (fingers-crossed) should be a return to normal for the Raptors in Toronto will be one of the most intriguing storylines of this season. If he returns to his Most Improved Player form, we can probably leave all the trade rumours behind. If not, then the Raptors will have an interesting decision to make moving forward.
Raptors address one of their weak spots with Svi Mykhailiuk signing
Even though free agency is all but over as we count down the days to the start of training camp, the Raptors made a nice under-the-radar move with the signing of Svi Mykhailiuk over the weekend. The 24-year-old split time between Detroit and Oklahoma City last season, shooting 33.4 percent from three.
This is a low-risk play for the Raptors, who desperately need to add more shooting to their roster. Mykhailiuk has room to grow and joins a crowded list of players who will be fighting for a spot on the roster. That list includes Sam Dekker, Freddie Gillespie, and when you start scanning the roster it probably includes Yuta Watanabe as well.
Training camp is shaping up to be a fun battle for those coveted end-of-roster spots.
The Raptors are committed to building a team of versatile defenders headlined by OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes. It looks like the front office has identified this as a path back towards contention for them. Of course, it does leave the offence as a bit of a glaring concern at the moment.
The front office is taking the long view in retooling this team, so it will probably be a few years before the next contending roster takes shape. Hitting on a player like Mykhailiuk, who has the potential to address a particular need for this team, is the type of move that can accelerate the process.
This week’s Scottie Barnes update
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