Toronto Raptors: Chris Haynes calls Pascal Siakam max extension a “virtual lock”

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is reporting that an extension between the Toronto Raptors and Pascal Siakam is a “virtual lock,” while also noting that it will take a maximum contract offer to get a deal done.

Pascal Siakam is the cornerstone of the Toronto Raptors. He’s the best player on the team, 25-years-old, and just won the NBA’s Most Improved Award. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Raptors plan on locking him up long-term sooner rather than later.

The NBA rookie extension deadline is Monday, October 21st. With only a few days of negotiation remaining, Haynes called a Siakam extension a “virtual lock” while also noting that the deal would require a maximum contract offer:

"The Cameroon native is the only player remaining from the 2016 NBA draft class considered to be a virtual lock to get a deal completed before the deadline…..However, in order to finalize the agreement between the two sides, a maximum contract offer will be required, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

Of course, whenever a story leaks, it’s important to think about who leaked the information. If Siakam is indeed receiving a maximum contract, it makes sense that his camp would want the deal to be done as soon as possible. Toronto, meanwhile, has no rush to get the deal done before next summer, and in fact, may have a few reasons to wait.

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Pascal’s camp leaking how close a deal is can put some outside pressure on the organization to get the extension done. The Raptors probably want to negotiate minor contract details before putting pen to paper.

So if he’s going to receive a maximum contract and the deal is a virtual lock to get done, what are the two sides still negotiating?

What’s preventing a deal from getting done

First, a maximum contract just means maximum per season; the two sides could technically still be negotiating the length of the deal. However, it feels as if both Siakam and the Raptors would prefer a five-year commitment. Toronto locks in the franchise cornerstone for an extra year. Siakam secures another year of big-time money.

While a five-year deal is likely, the two sides could be discussing the guarantees on the final year of that deal. Toronto could be pushing for the fifth-year to be partially guaranteed or even include a team option. Pascal could be pushing for a player option in year five, although that would be extremely audacious (Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic didn’t receive player options on their rookie-extensions).

Lastly, and most likely, their negotiation could rest on the murky definition of a “maximum contract” and how much Pascal actually gets paid.

At the moment, Toronto can only offer 25-percent of the cap on Siakam’s next contract. That’s the most any NBA team can offer players with fewer than six years of experience unless they meet certain criteria. However, if a player is able to reach certain benchmarks during their rookie contract, they can receive up to 30-percent of the cap.

There are multiple ways that a player can qualify for the 30-percent salary bump. But for Siakam, the only remaining paths are to win either MVP or Defensive Player of the Year next season, or much more likely, make an All-NBA team.

The two sides are likely negotiating how much the deal will increase if Siakam meets one of those criteria. The contract can even include risers which incrementally increase depending on which criteria he meets. For example, Ben Simmons, who recently agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, has raises which are dependent if he is elected to first, second, or third team All-NBA this season. Pascal’s contract will likely contain similar provisions.

Earlier this summer, it made sense the Toronto Raptors would want to wait on any Pascal Siakam extension. But after the team extended Kyle Lowry for another season, it became clear the franchise was targeting the summer of 2021 for any potential free agent plans. Without any major targets for the team’s 2020 cap space, it appears the team wants to lock up Siakam as soon as possible and avoid any potential offer-sheet drama.

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The two sides only have a few days left until the deadline passes. After that point, they’d have to wait until next July.  If the deal is a virtual lock, expect to hear something soon.