The Toronto Raptors have found themselves embroiled in one of the strangest trade rumor deluges in recent memory, with Pascal Siakam standing at the center of it all. Saying that Masai Ujiri and the rest of the front office are giving off mixed signals is the understatement of the year.
Despite the fact that Siakam himself reportedly wants to stay in Toronto long-term and has hinted that he will not sign an extension with any team that trades for him, Ujiri and the team haven’t exactly done a great job of squashing any rumors that hint at an impending departure.
With only one year left on his contract before free agency, it would make sense for a Raptors team that has made multiple win-now moves and has been very open about their desire not to bottom out to extend one of the best players in franchise history.
The Raptors are playing a very dangerous game, as they risk both souring relations with their best player, handicapping their playoff pursuit, and admitting defeat by trading him for pennies on the dollar. Not extending him could come back to haunt this team very quickly.
The Toronto Raptors should extend Pascal Siakam.
Trading players after signing big extensions is nothing new in the modern NBA, and it would undoubtedly enhance the return that Toronto would receive. That sounds better than only getting one pick, one young player, and a veteran with a bad contract to make the money match up.
Siakam is at the peak of his powers right now, establishing himself as one of the best power forwards in the game. The Raptors did just go off on a somewhat expensive spending spree following the departure of Fred VanVleet, so a Siakam trade would be completely antithetical to the signals they put out in the offseason.
How many times have the Raptors and their fans felt the sting of elite players bolting in free agency and not staying long-term? In Siakam, they have an elite player who wants to stay despite some chaotic times around the franchise, and they can’t seem to get rid of him fast enough.
The Raptors’ sudden reluctance to extend Siakam following months of platitudes implying they are willing to bring back a team built around his exploits boggles the mind. No matter what direction Toronto wants to go in, extending Siakam could be the best way to jump-start both of those directives.