It's no secret that the Toronto Raptors are in a state of flux. With the loss of Fred VanVleet to the Houston Rockets, a lack of cap space to make any big splashes in free agency, and the looming contract negotiations due for both Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby, it's clear the Raptors have to make some changes if they want to compete again soon.
Both Siakam and Anunoby's names have floated around in various trade rumours since last season's deadline. Given the team's logjam at the wing, lack of bench depth, and significant makeover over the offseason, moving one of them makes sense.
While Anunoby could draw an enticing package, his shooting and defensive abilities combined with his young age and relative affordability also make him easier to extend.
That leaves us with Siakam, far and away the Raptors' best player. With his contract expiring at the end of the 2023-24 season and a max deal likely for the 29-year-old, trading him could provide the Raptors with a bevy of draft picks and a young promising centrepiece to slot into their lineup. Teams needing scoring and defensive help could turn to Siakam who made the All-NBA Second Team in 2020 and Third Team in 2022. Here are five teams who have the assets and desperation to make a big splash in Pascal Siakam.
1. Indiana Pacers
With Tyrese Haliburton at the forefront of the Indiana Pacers' plans for the next few years, the organization clearly has no interest in being middling once again. The 22-year-old point guard led the team in scoring with 20.7 PPG and in assists with 10.4 per game, but he could use some help. Siakam would immediately become their go-to-scorer and could help take the stress off Haliburton and the team's other scorers like Myles Turner.
Naturally, Siakam won't come cheap. On top of multiple first-round picks, the Pacers will have to send a young player with a high ceiling as well as salary filler. That's where Bennedict Mathurin comes in. Between his stellar rookie season, Canadian background, and overall inexpensive salary, Mathurin could slot into the Raptors lineup like a glove, either sliding into the starting shooting guard spot or coming off the bench as the team's designated sixth man.
The Pacers would likely also have to send salary filler to Toronto or involve a third team to help shed room on the cap. Buddy Hield would also make for a nice addition to the Raptors given his aptitude for shooting threes, but Indiana might balk at the idea of trading two good off-guards.
Still, a trade involving Mathurin is one the Raptors can't brush aside all that easily.
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are in desperate need of change. After swinging for the fences last year with the Dejounte Murray trade and coming up empty in the first round, it's clear that having a talented backcourt isn't enough. Though Trae Young will likely remain the team's top scorer, Siakam's presence alone could help curb his below-average shooting numbers. Young only made 43% of his shots on high-volume attempts (19 per game), while his looks from beyond the arc suffered greatly.
Siakam isn't an elite shooter but his ability to get to the rim, make plays at a high level, and provide consistent defense gives the Hawks something they so desperately need at the power forward position. De'Andre Hunter was the team's third option but his nights could range anywhere from good to abysmal. Hunter would likely be what the Hawks offer for Siakam, but beyond him, the team isn't exactly flooded with young talent. Saddiq Bey and Onyeka Okongwu offer interesting options alongside Hunter but a lack of draft picks would make things difficult for the Hawks to pull off.
If Siakam does indeed get dealt to the Hawks, it would be a far bigger win for the Hawks than it would be for the Raptors, barring a miracle third party sending assets to Toronto.
3. Portland Trail Blazers
We're all tired of the Damian Lillard saga and understandably so. Even with his trade request, a trade that would send Siakam to the Blazers could be enough to change Dame's mind about leaving.
With Kawhi Leonard in 2019, Siakam filled the second scoring option incredibly and would be an even greater threat alongside Dame given his progression since. The cost would be high for Portland, who would most likely have to give up this year's third-overall pick in Scoot Henderson. This would effectively rid Toronto's need to tank, giving them room to focus on building the team around Scoot, Gary Trent Jr. Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes, which could turn into a deathly lineup for years to come.
Given Siakam's expensive salary and Portland's confusing decision to re-sign Jerami Grant for the next five years, Jusuf Nurkić would likely also be part of the trade (or could be re-routed of course). Should the Raptors keep him, they'd suddenly be a solid team at the center spot giving Christian Koloko more time to develop. Nurk has three more years left on his deal, but since it's not too expensive, the Raptors could probably flip him to a team that needs height.
This trade's probably the least likely to occur, but stranger things can happen. Of course, the Raptors could flip Siakam for Dame one-for-one but Portland's asking price for the disgruntled star is too high for the team to go around including first-round picks.
4. Dallas Mavericks
When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Kyrie Irving, everyone expected them to become better. Instead, they flamed out quickly and missed the playoffs entirely (and the Play-In Tournament as well). The team lacked height, offence, and defense in the frontcourt and their newest additions don't exactly move the needle. A trade for Siakam could immediately change their direction.
The scoring would be bountiful between Siakam and his two new co-stars, but more importantly, he'll be able to defend other teams scoring threats, making up for Luka Dončić and Irving's mediocrity on that end.
The Mavs would likely have to give up Dereck Lively II, their first-round pick from the 2023 draft, as well as additional draft capital and salary filler, but he would give the Raptors a viable centre option off the bench. If the Mavs aren't too infatuated with what Lively II can offer, then a trade for Siakam should certainly be something to consider.
5. Miami Heat
Despite an incredible playoff run and Jimmy Butler's consistent elite play throughout, the Miami Heat find themselves in a difficult situation. They lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to other teams and replaced them with Jaime Jaquez Jr., the team's first-round pick, and Josh Richardson. Neither of them moves the needle, but it seems like Miami is waiting for the opportunity to bring in a star to coincide with Jimmy and Bam Adebayo.
Sure, all signs point to the Heat trading for Damian Lillard given he's said he only wants to play for Miami. Despite that, Portland's asking price is high. The team wants four first-round picks and two quality players. Should the Heat find the Blazers' demands to be too high and still want to get a star to help them, then they can turn to Siakam, whose price will likely still be expensive but likely not quite what the Blazers are asking for.
Tyler Herro would make the most sense for the centrepiece given his talent and high salary, but that would likely also mean the Heat would ship Duncan Robinson to make the numbers work. If that's the case, expect the Heat to add a young promising player like Nikola Jovic, draft picks, or a mix of both. Regardless of how the Heat make it work, it could make for a solid alternative should the Blazers decide to move Lillard elsewhere or if they make a big splash to keep him.