Pascal Siakam

How Buddy Hield-Kings situation is impacted by Pascal Siakam contract


How Buddy Hield-Kings situation is impacted by Pascal Siakam contract

The Toronto Raptors made a huge commitment to power forward Pascal Siakam on Saturday morning, locking up the 25-year-old big on a four-year, $130 million max money contract. 

Taken with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Siakam is just the fourth first-round pick from the 2016 class to garner an extension.

That’s a lot of money for a player who worked his way through the G League to become an NBA champion, although it’s well deserved. Siakam was an integral part of the Raptors squad, and with Kawhi Leonard bolting for the Clippers in free agency, he is now the centerpiece of Toronto’s title defense.

The Raptors have their man, but what does this mean for Buddy Hield, another 2016 alum, and the Sacramento Kings team he has been playing hardball with over the last two weeks?

Hield has made it his mission to get an extension before the clock strikes 2 p.m. PT on Oct. 21. He wants a four-year, $110 million contract, which he has been aggressive in trying to obtain. He has even taken a step or two out of bounds while trying to plead his case.

When Siakam’s deal was announced, Hield’s camp likely gave a silent fist pump. Another of Hield’s class got paid handsomely for his skills as a basketball player. But when the dust settles, Toronto’s decision might not be in Hield’s favor.

Sure, Siakam got a truckload of cash. That is what Hield is looking for, which he made sure general manager Vlade Divac understood Saturday afternoon at the team’s Fan Fest.

But the reality of Hield’s situation might begin to sink in very soon. Sacramento holds all the cards with regards to the restricted free agent. The Kings are setting their price now, and next summer might not hold any relief for Hield and his negotiating team.

With Toronto paying out Siakam, there are now just four teams with $20 million or more to offer next summer. That number could adjust slightly at the trade deadline, but it could also shrink, especially if the situation in China becomes more of an issue for the NBA.

If Hield is looking at the group of teams with money, Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte and Cleveland are it. If that is what he wants, he’s taking a substantial step back when it comes to the win column, and that is if one of those teams deems him worthy of a long-term contract offer.

Maybe money is more important than wins, but that is not what the Bahamian-born shooter has spent the last two seasons promoting.

If he decides to hit the free-agent market, he’ll do so with the understanding that the Kings can (and in all likelihood will) match any offer. They’ll also likely get a discount, because any offer comes with a 5 percent raise, instead of the 8 percent that Sacramento can offer. 

Divac is willing to sit down at the table, but he’s playing with a royal flush, and he knows it. He would prefer an amicable conclusion to what has become a debacle. He would prefer to finish this saga by hugging Hield and welcoming him back into the fray with no hurt feelings.

Hield has an out. He can just play out this season and the 2020-21 campaign as well under a $6.5 million qualifying offer. He would then become an unrestricted free agent and the Kings would no longer have a hold over him, outside of his Larry Bird rights.

Hield would also give up anywhere from $16 to 21 million in salary during the 2020-21 season and enter free agency as a 28-, going on 29-year-old free agent. The chance of him recouping his lost wages would be minimal at best, but he could write his own ticket.

[RELATED: Lillard not a fan of Hield's negotiating tactics]

Siakam is a feel-good story. Hield could be as well. Like Siakam, he has made himself into a bonafide player in the NBA by working hard and finding his niche. But finding common ground with the Kings, instead of practicing a scorched-earth policy, might be his path to salvation.

In a Kings season focused on snapping a 13-year playoff drought, Hield’s situation is quickly becoming an unwanted distraction. There is still a chance for an amicable resolution. There is also a chance that he is creating a toxic situation. 

The two sides have a little over 24 hours to work things out. If not, this could drag on into the season and potentially beyond. There is common ground somewhere, and someone needs to find it quickly.

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting


De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

After a breakout second season with the Sacramento Kings, De’Aaron Fox finished in third place in his bid for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award Monday evening as part of the league’s postseason award show.

The Kings' starting point guard was one of three finalists for the award, but Toronto's Pascal Siakam took home the trophy after posting a big season for the Raptors. Nets' All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell finished second in voting.

Fox, 21, turned heads not just with his numbers, but with his ability to win with the Kings. Sacramento showed a 10-game improvement over the previous season and picked up their most victories since the 2005-06 season. It wasn't enough for Fox to take home the trophy.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a thirteenth consecutive season, but they are a team on the rise and Fox is the centerpiece of their rebuild.

After posting 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his rookie campaign, Fox improved to 17.3 points, 7.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his sophomore season.

Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fox improved in almost every facet of the game, including his 3-point shooting. He jumped from 30.7 percent in Year 1 to 37.1 percent in Year 2.

[RELATED: Examining Kings' roster before free agency]

Sacramento has designed their entire offense around Fox and they intend to continue that trend in the coming seasons.

Siakam had a great season for the Raptors, finishing the year averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in his third NBA season. He was a huge part of Toronto's success this season, which culminated in the team's first NBA Championship.

Will Warriors use same defensive strategy on Kawhi Leonard in Game 2?

Will Warriors use same defensive strategy on Kawhi Leonard in Game 2?

TORONTO -- The game plan was obvious -- take away Kawhi Leonard and make someone else beat you.

It worked for Steve Kerr’s Warriors in the Western Conference finals. They got creative with the way they defended Portland’s All-Star guard Damian Lillard. Instead of Lillard going off, Golden State was able to survive big games from others to come away with a sweep.

The Warriors used a version of the same thing Thursday against Toronto and to a certain degree, it worked.

“They were in a coverage the other night I had never seen before, which was a switch to a late blitz,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “It was pretty interesting. I had never seen it before and it was innovative. They do a lot of innovative stuff.”

Creative game planning helped hold Leonard to a modest 23 points on 5-of-14 shooting over 43 minutes of action.

“I thought we did a decent job overall on Kawhi,” Warriors head Steve Kerr said. “He didn't have his best game. But, again, transition and other areas of our defensive game were really lacking and we have to clean up. We're under no illusion that we're going to stop Kawhi. We're just trying to make it as difficult as possible on him.”

With the Warriors focused on the star, he found a way to move the ball quickly and rely heavily on his teammates.

“I come into the game just trying to win,” Kawhi Leonard said. “If I have my mindset on just trying to score the ball, yeah, it could be difficult. But I'm trying to make the right play out there, and obviously if there are two people on me, somebody is open. I could create a collapse situation.”

That someone else ended up being Pascal Siakam with a side helping of Marc Gasol and Fred VanVleet. The trio combined to score 67 of the Raptors' 118 points in their Game 1 victory.

“It's really not about me,” Leonard added. “If they play defense like that, guys are going to step up and make shots. All I could do is keep making the right play. When I do get a free look, make my shots and go back on other end and play defense. It's just not about me scoring or trying to get my offense off. It's a whole collective group out there playing basketball.”

Siakam was a game changer, knocking down 14-of-17 from the field on his way to a team-high 32 points. He made plenty of nice baskets, but he was also the beneficiary of some really poor transition defense from the Warriors.

“I think a team like this that pushes the ball relentlessly, it's not enough to just say, hey, guys, transition defense is important,” Kerr said. “I think you have to feel it, and we felt it the other night. They ran the ball right past us several times. As I said the other night, our transition defense was very poor and that has to improve.”

Draymond Green took a lot of the blame on himself for allowing Siakam to get loose, but his teammates deflected the issue back to the team and their inability to slow the Raptors on the break.

There is always a feeling out period early in a series, but Kerr is likely to stay the course and use a similar defensive tactic in Game 2 while hoping for a different result.

[RELATED: These numbers show how much Warriors need KD in Finals]

Expect Kerr to make some minor tweaks, but not wholesale changes. He now has more tape on Leonard and the Raptors and will likely test a few variations of lineups and schemes.

Nurse and his squad will have a counter play. The team that’s able to make the best adjustments on the fly will likely take Game 2.