Pascal Siakam finally found his new home after months of trade talk speculation.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Indiana Pacers bolstered their roster, acquiring Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam in a three-team deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. In what I consider a win-win trade, the Pacers sent guard Bruce Brown, forward Jordan Nwora, and multiple 2024 second-round picks to Toronto. In addition, Indiana shipped a projected top-four 2026 first round pick to the Raptors. As a part of the deal, Indiana received guard Kira Lewis Jr. and cash consideration from New Orleans.
Indiana didn't have to give up their young, core players
A bold, yet brilliant move, the Pacers didn't have to part ways with any of their younger players. Bennedict Mathurin remains a core part of this team, along with defensive specialist Andrew Nembhard. They even retained Jarace Walker, whom they selected 8th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.
We're incredibly excited to welcome Pascal to Indiana," said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard in a PR team issued statement. "As a two-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA All-Star, Pascal is a player that our organization has long admired and respected. We feel that his unique offensive skillset will complement our style of play, while his defensive versatility will be a valuable asset to our team."
It was only a matter of time before Siakam was moved, as trade rumors continued to heat up in recent weeks. Currently 16-25 this season, Toronto recently shipped OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks, in exhange for Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett. While Toronto hasn't seen a playoff run since the 2021-2022 season, they're in clear rebuild mode, and will continue to see 22 year-old Scottie Barnes as their focal point.
welcome to Indy, Pascal Siakam 😤 pic.twitter.com/KbzTdvxDKq— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 18, 2024
The trade makes sense, especially since Siakam and Anunoby were likely to enter free agency this summer. Besides their championship title in 2019, the Raptors displayed nothing but mediocracy since the 2020-2021 season. With the departure of Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet, Toronto simply couldn't find a way to win, despite retaining several talented players. With the recent changes, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley will continue to develop, and the Raptors organization can plan for the future. Imploding their post championship roster was the inevitable.
The Pacers front office believes in this team
The Pacers haven't seen playoff action since the 2019-2020 season. In fact, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard has been vocal about striking a colossal trade in the past.
Considering Indiana has the young talent, and draft capital, now was the perfect time. It's clear as day, the Pacers are way ahead of their rebuild schedule. From 2020-2023, Indiana had a cumulative win loss record of just 94-142.
From my perspective, the Pacers front office believes in this team, especially after the splash they made in this year's In-Season Tournament.
The downside? Pacers will depart ways with veteran guard Bruce Brown, who brought championship experience from his time in Denver. Brown, who signed a 2-year, $45 million contract with the Pacers this past offseason, was a monumental contributor this year. The former Pacer started all 33 games with Indiana this season, averaging career-highs in point (12.1), minutes (29.7), and free-throw percentage (81.7 %).
"A two-time All-Star, who's 29 - right in the heart of his prime."@PatBoylanPacers & @PacersJJ break down the deal that brought Pascal Siakam to the Pacers on today's episode of The Sideline Guys powered by @GainbridgeSport.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 18, 2024
🎧 https://t.co/XKmOsTMGTU pic.twitter.com/laP8sTxxgr
In eight seasons with Toronto, Siakam averaged 17.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, on 32.7 percent three-point, and 49.1 percent field goal shooting. In 510 career NBA games, the forward was named a 2x NBA All-Star, All-NBA Second Team, Most Improved NBA Player, and was a key part in the Raptors championship run.
He brings defensive versatility to the Pacers
He now joins a Pacers team, who leads the NBA in total offense this year. Not only is this a dynamic team scoring wise, they have the highest offensive rating in NBA history. Led by guard Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana is currently in playoff contention, and remains dedicated to building a winning roster. With Haliburton emerging into a star, Siakam is everything the Pacers hoped and dreamed for.
While Indiana is elite when it comes to scoring, they lack defense, and size, next to center Myles Turner. Putting up a league best 125.6 points a game is great, however, when it comes to contention, this team will need defense. Ranking 27th in defensive rating (119.5), the Pacers allow a league worst 50.2 field goal percentage. In addition, they lack perimeter defending, and struggle on the boards. When I mean they struggle, they rank near last in defensive rebounding (30.6 per game).
Siakam, who is 6'8, is a two-way wing who will make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball for Indiana. While Myles Turner was once involved in several trade rumors, he's now a concrete part of their front court. With Turner's ability to stretch the floor, Siakam will bring versatility, along with size and length on the defensive end. He's excellent at defending multiple positions, which should help their guards. He's also a viable scoring option, who will replace Jalen Smith in the starting rotation.
Can the Pacers sign Siakam to a long-term deal?
Sure, the Pacers gave up several assets for Siakam in a rare move by the Pacers. With how talented Hailburton is, Siakam has never played alongside such a talented facilitator and scorer like him. While this team is very young, their bench remains extremely deep. Jalen Smith, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker, and Aaron Nesmith remain in rotation for Indiana. Perhaps their depth will be the secret to their success.
With $38 million left on his expiring contract, the biggest question remains if the Pacers can retain the forward longterm. Although he's ineligable to sign a long term deal until summer, there's speculation among several reports that the Pacers are optimistic.
In an interview with interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Siakams agent, Todd Ramasar, spoke about his clients upcoming free agency and the recent trade.
“I could see Pascal in Indiana long term,” Siakam’s agent, said Todd Ramasa. “They want to see Pascal with the organization long term.” He also added the forward is "excited and ecstatic about the opportunity in Indiana."
A high risk,high reward move, the Cameroon native is in the prime of his career, and will make an immediate impact for Indiana. In 39 games this season, Siakam is averaging 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Additionally, he's shooting at a high clip from the field (52.2 percent), his personal best since the 2018-2019 season.
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Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter, Social Media Manager, and Sports Content Creator at Ballislife. She has a focus on the Sports Betting, NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.