“I tried to stay focused on the game as much as I could, but it [was] just hard, just coming in here and seeing so many familiar faces and reflecting on everything,” Siakam said. “Coming back here after eight years, just to see the reception and people being so genuinely happy for me, I think for me that was the most important thing. … I couldn’t really ever dream of that. It means a lot, so I appreciate everyone for everything. I’m humbled.”
As Lewenberg writes, Siakam seems truly happy to be playing for Indiana, which is a contrast to the “unfortunate end” of his tenure with the Raptors, who traded him to the Pacers last month.
“It feels amazing,” Siakam said before the game. “[From the moment I got to Indiana] it’s just been so much love, so much appreciation and just like overly supportive in everything. It feels good to be in a place like that. I’m just looking forward to continuing to be there and just have an opportunity to do something special with that team.”
A source tells Lewenberg the Raptors reached out to Siakam’s camp to see if he’d be interested in a three-year, maximum-salary extension before the 2023/24 season began, though Lewenberg cautions that the offer was “informal, at best.” Siakam, meanwhile, wanted a fourth year added, and talks broke down after that.
Lewenberg believes the Raptors took Siakam for granted, but the two-time All-NBA member is “excited to have the opportunity” to play for the Pacers. The 29-year-old is set to hit free agency this summer and is widely expected to sign a long-term deal with Indiana, which holds his Bird rights.
Here’s more on the Pacers:
- Speaking to JJ Redick on his Old Man and the Three podcast (Twitter link), All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton admitted he might’ve taken another game or two off following his hamstring injury if he didn’t have significant financial considerations at stake. Haliburton’s rookie scale extension features Rose rule language, which means he’s eligible to make 30% of next season’s salary cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team. However, he needs to play at least 65 games to qualify for major postseason awards due to a rule change in the new CBA.
- Indiana held a brief players-only meeting following Monday’s loss to Charlotte, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Some things were addressed after the game,” center Myles Turner said. “We all got together and we spoke without the coaches and just talked it out and I think we’re headed in the right direction.” However, Turner was miffed by the team’s performance, starting with his own. “There’s no excuses, man,” Turner said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened this season. It starts with me as a leader of this team. Our defense just wasn’t there tonight. I wasn’t very good defensively tonight. I think as a whole going into All-Star break, these games matter. I don’t think we had the right mindset tonight.” As Dopirak notes, while the Pacers are currently 31-25, the No. 6 seed in the East, they have several losses to teams at the bottom of the standings, including the Hornets (twice) Trail Blazers (twice), Wizards, Grizzlies and Raptors.
- Veteran sharpshooter Doug McDermott is “thrilled” to be back with the Pacers, who traded for him prior to last week’s deadline, according to Dopirak. “It feels good to be a part of winning basketball,” McDermott said. “I haven’t really been a part of that in a couple years. Just to be a part of the Pacer organization, I’m super excited but very thankful for my time in San Antonio. I’ve always felt like this place is home for me. It’s kind of the place where I revamped my career.” The Midwest native previously played three seasons with Indiana, from 2018-21.