NBA Champion, Pascal Siakam, has joined the Indiana Pacers in a bumper trade. Is the forward enough to push the franchise into championship contention?
The Indiana Pacers have signalled their clear intent to win a championship with the acquisition of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, in a bumper deal that’s put the basketball world on notice.
In what’s shaping as a season-defining moment, the move pairs Siakam with Indiana’s exciting point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, who leads the NBA in assists per game in his breakout 2023-24 season. Despite Haliburton’s hamstring injury sidelining him for the first stretch of Siakam’s Pacers tenure, the pair pose a frightening proposition to the Eastern Conference.
Pascal Siakam traded to the Indiana Pacers
According to various credible reports, the Toronto Raptors received Bruce Brown Jr., Jordan Nwore and three first-round picks from the Pacers, who in turn got their man, Siakam. As part of a separate trade, the New Orleans Pelicans sent Kira Lewis Jr to the Raptors and a second-round pick to the Pacers.
With Siakam unlikely to renew his expiring contract with the Raptors at season end, Toronto was compelled to act now and ensure they secured value for the star player and provide scope to construct a team around prodigious young star, Scottie Barnes.
How will this impact the Pacers?
For the sixth-seed Pacers, this move undoubtedly elevates them as one of the league’s strongest title contenders, even in a stacked Eastern Conference. The chemistry between Haliburton and Siakam could be the offensive equation that elevates Indiana’s standing in the league. In particular, Siakam’s arrival should help the Pacers’ defensive worries, which are among the worst in the league.
So far this season, Siakam has averaged just over 23 points per game, by far and away making him the Pacers’ second most potent offensive force behind only Haliburton. Many fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of the pair lining up alongside each other, with Haliburton’s ability to find passes others simply don’t conceive executing and Siakam’s overall scoring ability a nightmare-inducing proposition.
Indiana has historically struggled to acquire major talent in free agency, their most notable move being for All-Star David West in 2011. Instead, they’ve developed talent through the draft or astute trades. Siakam’s is another move that falls into the latter category.
Rick Carlisle, whose construction of a record-breaking offence at the Pacers has been born from trusting Haliburton, is no stranger to moulding talent and extracting the best from his talent.
“We adapt, we innovate, and that’s the key to our success,” he said when questioned on Haliburton’s potential arrival recently.
It’s typical of the Pacers’ approach, which focuses on the benefit towards team structure. This move could well be the masterstroke needed for an extended playoff journey.
Beyond this season, Siakam reportedly holds interest in remaining in Indianapolis with the potential of a long-term contract agreement in the post-season free-agency window. If this eventuates, not only does this move lead Indiana in a stronger position for their 2023-24 title push, but also firms them as a contender for the foreseeable future.
Where does this leave the Raptors?
The Raptors find themselves at a crossroads. None of their 2019 Finals starting five; Danny Green, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Siakam, and Marc Gasol, remain at the Canadian outfit.
With the end of one era, another may form. Head coach Darko Rajakovic and his coaching staff must weigh up the odds of the team’s future and map out where to from here. Not only is Siakam’s departure a blow, but Toronto also recently parted with OG Anunoby, who headed to the New York Knicks.
Evidently, the Raptors are hungry for fresher, younger talent on their roster, spearheaded by 20-year-old Scottie Barnes and supported by RJ Barrett (23) and Immanuel Quickley (24). Both Quickley and Barrett were a part of the Anunoby trade and have averaged nearly 20 apiece since their move across the border.
With significant cap space cleared and the potential for a high draft pick at the 2024 draft, the Raptors’ current trajectory screams for a major rebuild.
With the Siakam trade complete, one can only question how high is the Pacers’ bet, and how rich is the Raptors’ harvest. Only time will ink the final chapter of this unfolding saga.