The Toronto Raptors signaled the end of an era over the last few days, as a once unthinkable trade of Pascal Siakam has officially become a reality. Not even multiple All-NBA appearances or All-Star game nods could be enough to prevent them from parting ways with an icon like this.
Siakam was sent away for three first-round picks, Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and Kira Lewis Jr. As much as this trade might have made sense when looking at the future, losing Siakam is still tough to swallow for everyone involved, Pascal included.
Siakam confirmed in a very emotional piece for the Players' Tribune that he never asked for a trade away from the Raptors, perhaps naively believing that he would play his entire career in the NBA for one team. While fans are understandably upset, Siakam still has feelings for this fanbase and city.
"I’ll tell you what though," Siakam said. "When I’m back next month as an opponent, and it’s the national anthems, and I’m standing there looking around? I do hope maybe I spot one. And I’ll still give it a YESSSS!!! on the inside. It’ll still mean a lot to me. Because it’s still a Toronto thing. And I’m Toronto forever."
Pascal Siakam pens heartfelt farewell to Toronto Raptors in Players' Tribune
Siakam's extension would have cost the Raptors in the neighborhood of $200 million for the full duration, which Masai Ujiri seemed unwilling to do. Even as Siakam is averaging 22.2 points per game in Toronto, the time seemed suitable for this front office.
This is not the first such gut punch Raptors fans have seen with homegrown players. While the Kawhi Leonard trade ended up with a championship ring, seeing a talent like DeMar DeRozan get traded away after choosing to remain in Toronto when very few players of his ilk did have to hit fans like a shotgun blast to the chest.
Times like this make it easy to remember the off-court toll of a trade. Siakam loved being a Raptor and living in Toronto, and now he has to pack up his whole life and move to Indiana for what looks like the next few years. In a sign of loyalty, however, Siakam will be keeping his charitable foundation based in Toronto.
Siakam's legacy in Toronto is secure, as he has the championship glory, individual statistical achievements, and beloved status in the fanbase to go up against all but a handful of players across the history of this franchise. That doesn't make the impact of losing him to the Pacers any less fresh.