Deadline The first big trade of the season has been made — Pascal Siakam is a member of the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana had been linked to Siakam for some time and was his most aggressive suitor, but things came at a price. Toronto had hoped to acquire OG Anunoby like they did from the Knicks — Siakam is a two-time All-NBA selection, after all — but other teams have promised to test free agents and paid a premium. We focused on players who could be rented without paying money. Now that both teams have found a compromise, let's break down the winners and losers of this deal.
First, here's how the trade works:
Acquired by Indiana Pacers Pascal Siakam, future second-round pick
Toronto Raptors receive Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis Jr., 3 first-round picks (2024 Pacers, 2024 Houston, Los Angeles Clippers, worst of Oklahoma City or Utah, 2026 Pacers, top 4 protected) )
Acquired by New Orleans Pelicans Cash Considerations (from Indiana)
Winner: Pascal Siakam
For all the talk of fit and chasing another ring, Pascal Siakam wanted to be in a place where he could get paid next summer. Enter Indiana. Teams with cap space know they have to fork out to acquire and retain stars and their markets. If Siakam doesn't wink and nod to re-sign, there's no way the Pacers will allow a three-first lead. Join them this summer.
Money aside, Siakam steps into a custom-built basketball environment. A player whose greatness remains unknown to many casual fans because the Raptors rarely appear on American television is about to surprise some. His game is a perfect fit for Indiana.
Siakam is a force in transition and currently plays next to the best transition guard in the game in Tyrese Haliburton (once he gets healthy). Haliburton will find him on runouts or as a trailer for other players on the break to run toward the arc to spread the floor and create lanes for Siakam to attack.
People may get hung up on the fact that Siakam isn't a great outside shooter. That's true, he isn't. But he's elite and puts pressure on teams at the rim, and he'll end up on a Pacers team with a lot of shooting and balanced floor spacing – he has lanes to attack. Masu. Siakam will be successful at Indiana.
And he will get paid.
Winner: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers had a tough time in the playoffs. This move does not move them to competing teams in the East with Boston, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, none of which would want to play Indiana in the first round.
But that's not why the Pacers are the winners in this deal. There is a more important reason.
Indiana finally made a big move.
The Pacers have historically played it safe, hitting an iron off the tee and landing it safely in the fairway of a par-5. They took a big club in this trade and screwed it up. It's a risk, but with a talent like Haliburton already on the roster, they need to take that risk — and they have young stars like Benedict Mathurin and Jareth Walker. He accomplished this without letting go.
In addition to scoring, Siakam is helping out the Pacers' shaky defense, which has been quietly improving as of late (15th in the league over the last seven games). Siakam is a big defender at 6-foot-8, and while not elite in that regard, he is an upgrade to the Pacers' core rotation (if Walker can develop his jump shot and become a regular member of the rotation, the defense will be good) may become a thing).
Siakam has also contributed in his time away from Haliburton, with Indiana's star point guard posting a -2.9 net rating when he's on the bench. Siakam can take over the offense and keep opponents afloat in those few minutes.
Loser: Other teams targeting Siakam this summer.
Pascal Siakam will be a prime target for teams with cap space this summer. No more. Things could have gone sideways, and Siakam decided to test the free agent market anyway, but there's no way this trade could have been finalized without a nod and eyeball agreement on a new contract with him this summer.
Philadelphia was often mentioned because it has the most cap space, but I'm not sure the fit was that great. Atlanta has long been known to be interested and may have been pursuing him. Detroit wants to win some games, and Siakam could help with that. Teams can now remove Siakam from their summer free agent boards.
Winner: New Orleans Pelicans
The Kira Lewis trade has been expected for some time due to the luxury tax being applied to the Pelicans this season. It's not thrilling, but in that sense it's a win for New Orleans. This is not a team worth paying taxes on. New Orleans was in the right place at the right time to get into the mix, and it worked out well for them.
Winner: Toronto Raptors
It was a pretty tepid win — Toronto didn't get any premium picks or players — but it's still a win.
Most of all, it's because they didn't let Siakam do what happened to Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry in front of him — Siakam didn't walk out the door for nothing.
It's also a win in the grand scheme of things, as the Raptors needed to choose and commit to a direction for the franchise and rebuild around Scottie Barnes.
This isn't as thrilling a return for Toronto as it sounds in the press release. Yes, there are three first-round picks, but none of them will be in the lottery. That said, this is what they get given Siakam's expiring contract and possible departure from the team that traded him (including the Pacers, even if everyone's intentions are good at this point). It was the best offer I could have made. The market was higher for Anunoby than for Siakam.
Don't be surprised if the Raptors release Bruce Brown at the deadline in another trade (they could move him again at the deadline, but the CBA would add up his salary again in another trade) It must be straight).
The big picture, combine these three choices and get RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley traded to OG Anunoby and KnicksAnd then there's the foundation of a rebuild (or rebuild, or whatever artistic term the Raptors want to express this). That's a win.