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February 23, 2024

Pacers Shake Up Eastern Conference With Blockbuster Siakam Trade

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Jan 20, 2024

The Indiana Pacers pulled off a massive trade on Tuesday night, acquiring star forward Pascal Siakam from the Toronto Raptors in a complex, three-team deal also involving the New Orleans Pelicans. The move signals a bold new direction for the Pacers as they seek to vault back into contention in the Eastern Conference.

Pacers Send 3 First-Round Picks, Brown to Land Siakam

To pry Siakam away from the Raptors, the Pacers parted with three first-round draft picks, two pick swaps, and guard Bruce Brown. The full details of the trade:

  • Pacers receive: Pascal Siakam
  • Raptors receive: Bruce Brown, Pacers 2024 first-round pick (lottery protected), Pacers 2026 first-round pick, Pacers 2028 first-round pick, option to swap 2025 first-round picks, option to swap 2027 first-round picks
  • Pelicans receive: Gary Trent Jr., Justin Champagnie

Siakam, 28, is a 6’9″ forward averaging 24.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game this season. The one-time All-NBA second team selection won Most Improved Player in 2019 during Toronto’s championship season and brings much-needed star power to Indiana’s frontcourt.

“I’m excited for the next chapter in my career with the Pacers,” said Siakam. “I want to thank Toronto, the fans, my coaches and teammates for everything over the last seven seasons. Now it’s time to focus on this new challenge and opportunity.”

The Raptors signaled an intent to rebuild by dealing their franchise cornerstone midseason. Team president Masai Ujiri offered heartfelt praise for Siakam on his way out.

“Pascal made an enormous contribution to our team’s success in his seven seasons, both on the court, where his talent was clearly on display, and in the community and with young fans who he inspired,” said Ujiri. “While a difficult decision, we felt this trade set up both Pascal and our team for future success.”

Haliburton, Turner Welcome Siakam in Potentially Dynamic Trio

Siakam joins burgeoning young talents Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner to form a tantalizing new Big Three in Indianapolis. Haliburton, acquired last February from Sacramento, looks like a future star at point guard. Turner, when healthy, is one of the league’s top shot blockers.

The Pacers offense should get a major jolt with Siakam’s versatile scoring prowess added to the mix. Haliburton said he’s excited to play alongside the athletic big man.

“Pascal’s a beast, a complete two-way player,” said Haliburton. “He can score at all three levels, handle the ball, defend multiple positions. I can’t wait to get out there with him and Myles.”

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle will experiment with lineups, but Siakam looks likely to slot in as the full-time power forward. Turner remains entrenched at center, while Haliburton runs the point. That would allow guard Buddy Hield to retain his starting role to help with floor spacing.

“I love the potential of this group,” said Carlisle. “You have playmaking, scoring, defense, shooting. We’ll tweak some things but I believe we can compete at a high level.”

The headline trio all remain under contract through at least the 2024-2025 season. Indiana’s new core should propel them back into the playoff mix immediately in the weaker Eastern Conference.

Raptors Blow Up Championship Core, Now in Rebuild Mode

This marks the end of an era in Toronto, as the last remaining key piece of the Raptors 2019 championship squad now resides in Indiana. Siakam had spent his entire career with the Raptors after being selected 27th overall in 2016.

Ujiri resisted a rebuild in recent years, trying to retool on the fly. But with Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby also potentially on the trade block, the Raptors seem headed for a full ground-up restoration.

“It’s the end of an era in some sense, with Pascal gone,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. “He meant so much to our team and the city. But now we regroup, play hard and see what the future holds.”

In Bruce Brown Jr., Toronto adds an intriguing combo guard on an affordable contract. The three first-rounders give them major draft capital to jumpstart a makeover. Swapping Trent for draft considerations was a concession for taking on additional salary.

Ujiri hinted this is just the start of an aggressive roster recalibration.

“There could definitely be more moves as we figure out the direction for this team,” Ujiri said. “Maybe over the next year or two we take a step back before moving forward again. I won’t sugarcoat it – this might be a difficult stretch.”

Questions For Pacers Despite Adding Star Power

Landing a player of Siakam’s caliber is an undisputed win for Indiana. But it does little to raise their ceiling as championship contenders in the short term.

The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics remain a cut above in the East. And the Milwaukee Bucks will be formidable again once Khris Middleton returns from injury. It’s an uphill battle for Indiana to vault from play-in team to title favorite in one trade.

There are also lingering questions about chemistry and how all these new pieces will mesh together quickly. Haliburton is still adapting to a new system after last February’s deal. Can Siakam play effectively off ball while deferring to Haliburton as lead playmaker? Will the defense suffer with three subpar individual defenders in the starting five?

Most likely, the Pacers are still at least one more high-level player away from seriously challenging the East’s elite. But adding Siakam shows a win-now urgency and lays the foundation for a potential contender down the road.

The Raptors also face skepticism that they can rebuild quickly into a contender again. Toronto is not a marquee free agent destination like Los Angeles or Miami. Ujiri will need to work his magic in the trade market and draft to retool the roster effectively.

What’s Next For Key Figures

For Siakam, he debuts for the Pacers on Friday night on the road against Portland. The home fans will get their first look on Monday when Indiana hosts the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Siakam should turbocharge the Pacers offense and battle Domantas Sabonis for the unofficial “best power forward in the East” title.

Haliburton also returns from injury on Friday as the new Big Three takes the floor together with great anticipation.

“I’m excited to see what Pascal can do out there with us,” Haliburton said. “I’ll be throwing him some alleys for sure.”

The Raptors play Friday in Charlotte, where the Pascal Siakam era officially comes to a close. Emotions will be running high for Nurse, VanVleet and the other returning players.

“It’ll be weird looking out there and not seeing Pascal in a Raptors uniform,” said VanVleet. “He put his heart and soul into this organization. I have nothing but love and respect for him.”

Ujiri figures to continue wheeling-and-dealing over the coming weeks. No one on the roster should feel safe as the Raptors president dismantles the past to pave the way for the future.

For the Eastern Conference, this blockbuster trade shakes up the playoff picture. The Pacers look primed to end their play-in purgatory, while the Raptors turmoil could open the door for the Knicks, Hawks or Wizards to snatch a postseason spot.

Strap in, the NBA landscape just shifted seismically. The Siakam trade reverberates far beyond just Toronto and Indianapolis.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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