After trading OG Anunoby and acquiring youngsters RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, the Toronto Raptors seem poised for a rebuild.
This recent trade with the New York Knicks begs the question: Is All-Star Pascal Siakam the league’s most desired player as the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaches?
With Toronto likely looking to jumpstart their rebuild, the 29-year-old does not fit the timeline of their other high-value players, including Scottie Barnes (22 years old) and Barrett (23 years old). Barnes is averaging career-highs in nearly every major statistic, and he's the Raptors' second-leading scorer behind Siakam. Barrett has not lived up to expectations as a former No. 3 overall pick, but he has proven himself as a solid scorer, averaging 18.2 points on 42.3% shooting. The Raptors are entering 2024 with a lineup that's built to compete in the coming years rather than this season.
Many organizations believe they have a cast strong enough to compete for a championship or, at the very least, a playoff berth. There are very few sellers this season, and the lack of teams interested in parting ways with their key contributors further enhances Siakam’s value. With so few impact players on the market, many front offices around the NBA could view Siakam as their missing piece.
There is an argument for stars such as Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen or Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro being the most sought-after player, but neither has the newfound availability of Siakam. Also, it seems unlikely that either of those players will be traded, whereas a Siakam deals seems more likely, especially since he'll be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that "Toronto is expected to continue to explore trades involving forward Pascal Siakam." While he points out that "there are no deals with traction now," that's likely to change as the trade deadline gets closer.
Siakam is a two-time All-NBA forward who's averaging 21.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 51.2% shooting. Teams seeking a player to stretch the floor should consider looking elsewhere, as Siakam is shooting 26.1% from three-point range through 32 games. He's an offensive engine who has the ability to create his own shot, with just 58.1% of his points being assisted. For comparison, reigning MVP Joel Embiid is assisted on 56.8% of his makes.
Two of the strongest contenders for Siakam are the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings.
Philadelphia could benefit from a third scoring option alongside Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. The Sixers' tandem is averaging a combined 61.3 points. The 76ers sit as the No. 3 seed in the East, trailing the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.
Forward Tobias Harris provides solid contributions, but lacks the offensive skill-set of Siakam. Harris would likely act as the center of Philadelphia’s offer. The 31-year-old is averaging 17.3 points and 6.1 rebounds on 51.3% shooting. It's no secret that Daryl Morey has been pursuing a third star ever since trading James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Meanwhile, the Kings currently hold the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. If they add a third star to the exhilarating duo of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento could elevate further up the standings. The organization has a multitude of valuable assets, including Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter, Davion Mitchell and Malik Monk.
However, it remains to be seen whether Sacramento is willing to part with these pieces and push their chips to the middle of the table. Murray is averaging 15.5 points per game in his sophomore season, while Monk and Huerter provide solid scoring and shooting from beyond the arc.
While the 76ers and Kings make sense as landing spots for Siakam, plenty of teams will likely call about the forward in the coming weeks. Don't be surprised if there's a bidding war for Siakam's services.