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Winners and losers from Pascal Siakam trade to Pacers

We have our first major trade of the deadline season — Pascal Siakam is a member of the Indiana Pacers.

Indiana had been linked to Siakam for a while and was the most aggressive suitor, but things got hung up on the price. Toronto wanted a haul like they got from the Knicks for OG Anunoby — Siakam is a two-time All-NBA player after all — but other teams saw a guy promising to test free agency and a potential rental they would not pay a premium for. The sides found a middle ground, so let’s break down the winners and losers from this deal.

First, here’s how the trade shakes out:

Indiana Pacers receive Pascal Siakam, a future second-round pick
Toronto Raptors receive Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis Jr., three first-round picks (2024 Pacers; 2024 worst of Houston, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City or Utah; 2026 Pacers, top four protected)
New Orleans Pelicans receive cash considerations (from Indiana)

Winner: Pascal Siakam

For all the talk of fit and chasing another ring, Pascal Siakam wanted to be somewhere he will get paid next summer. Enter Indiana, a team with cap space that knows it has to fork over to get and keep stars and its market — there is no way the Pacers would give up three firsts without a wink-and-a-nod that Siakam would re-sign with them this summer.

Put the money aside, and Siakam steps into a tailor-made basketball environment. A player where a lot of casual fans don’t realize how good he is because the Raptors are rarely on American television is about to blow some minds. His game fits perfectly in Indiana.

Siakam is a force in transition and is now playing next to the best transition guard in the game in Tyrese Haliburton (once he gets healthy). Haliburton will find him on runouts, or as the trailer when other guys on the break run to the arc and spread the floor, creating a lane for Siakam to attack.

People can get hung up on the fact Siakam is not a great outside shooter. That’s true, he’s not. However, he is elite and putting pressure on teams at the rim, and he is going to a Pacers team with a lot of shooting and well-balanced floor spacing — he is going to have lanes to attack. Siakam is going to thrive in Indiana.

And he’s going to get paid.

Winner: Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers just became a very tough out in the playoffs. This move does not move them to the contending tier with Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia in the East, but none of those contending teams will want to see Indiana in the first round.

However, that’s not why the Pacers are winners in this deal, there is a more important reason:

Indiana finally took a big swing.

The Pacers are historically a franchise that played it safe, hitting an iron off the tee to ensure they land safely in the fairway on a par 5. They pulled out the big club with this trade and let it rip. That comes with risk, but with a talent like Haliburton already on the roster it’s the kind of risk they need to take — and they did it without giving up their young stars such as Bennedict Mathurin or Jarace Walker.

More than just scoring, Siakam helps the Pacers’ shaky defense, which quietly has been better of late (15th in the league over the last seven games). Siakam is a 6'8" rangy defender who is not elite on that end but an upgrade to the Pacers’ core rotation. (If Walker can develop a jump shot and become a regular part of the rotation, the defense could be good).

Siakam also helps in the non-Haliburton minutes — Indiana has a -2.9 net rating in the minutes their star point guard is on the bench. Siakam can take over the offense in some of those minutes and keep them afloat.

Loser: Any other team eyeing Siakam this summer

For teams with cap space this summer, Pascal Siakam was going to be a prime target. Not anymore. While things may go sideways and Siakam decides to test the free agent market anyway, there is no chance this trade was put together without some nod-and-a-wink agreement on a new contract for him this summer.

Philadelphia was often mentioned because they have max cap space, although I’m not sure the fit would have been that great. Atlanta had long been known to have interest and might have chased him. Detroit wants to win a few games and Siakam could have helped. Teams can now cross Siakam off their summer free agent boards.

Winner: New Orleans Pelicans

A trade of Kira Lewis has been expected for a while because it gets the Pelicans under the luxury tax for this season. It’s not thrilling, but in that sense, it’s a win for New Orleans; this is not a team worth paying the tax for. New Orleans was a little lucky, in the right place at the right time to get in this mix, but it worked for them.

Winner: Toronto Raptors

This was a rather tepid win — Toronto didn’t land a premium pick or player — but it’s still a win.

Mostly, it’s a win because they didn’t let happen with Siakam what happened with Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry before him — Siakam didn’t walk out the door for nothing.

Also, It’s a win in the big picture because the Raptors have picked and committed to a direction for the franchise, rebuilding around Scottie Barnes, something they needed to do.

This is not as thrilling a return for Toronto as it sounds in the press release: Yes, it’s three first-round picks, but none of them will be in the lottery. That said, with Siakam on an expiring contract and a potential flight risk from any team that traded for him (Pacers included, even if everyone’s intentions are good right now), this was as good an offer as they were going to get. The market was higher on Anunoby than Siakam.

Don’t be surprised if the Raptors flip Bruce Brown at the deadline in another trade (they can move him again at the deadline, but the CBA prevents them from aggregating his salary again in another deal, it has to be straight up).

Big picture, pair these three picks with getting RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in the OG Anunoby trade with the Knicks, and there is the foundation of a rebuild (or retooling, or whatever other term of art the Raptors want to spin this as). It’s a win.