Pascal Siakam

Extension Rumors: Hield, Brown, Siakam

Teams carrying players eligible for rookie scale extensions have five more days to beat the October 21 deadline and lock up those players to long-term deals, with Buddy Hield (Kings), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), and Pascal Siakam (Raptors) among the prime extension candidates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports has updates on the extension talks for all three players, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • The Kings have made Hield a four-year offer worth $90MM, league sources tell Haynes. However, the sharpshooter and agent Brandon Rosenthal are seeking a deal closer to $110MM. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projections for 2020/21, a four-year, maximum-salary contract for Hield with Sacramento would be worth just shy of $130MM, so even a $110MM deal would come in well below the max.
  • Although the Celtics aren’t typically aggressive when it comes to finalizing rookie scale extensions, they’ve put a four-year, $80MM offer on the table for Brown, league sources tell Haynes. However, the swingman, who turns 23 next week, believes in his ability to become a star and is seeking a more lucrative offer.
  • Siakam is the most likely player in this group to sign a new contract by Monday, according to Haynes, who refers to the Raptors‘ forward as a “virtual lock” to be extended. However, it will likely require a maximum-salary offer from Toronto, league sources inform Haynes. A five-year max for Siakam would be worth a projected $168MM, and could even get as high as $202MM if it includes Rose Rule language.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Strus, Thybulle, Siakam

Despite improving his already-impressive arsenal, Sixers star Ben Simmons can’t get caught up in settling for jumpers behind the arc this season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Simmons shocked the Philadelphia crowd as the first half of the team’s preseason game against the Guangzhou Long-Lions came to a close last week, connecting on a deep shot from three-point territory — much to the delight of his fans and teammates alike.

“I know what I’m good at,” Simmons said, according to Pompey. “I know what I’m great at. There’s things I need to work on, but my game is not going to change in a day.

“I’m not going to come out and be shooting lights-out like [Golden State’s] Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] or guys like them. My game is developing, and I work hard.”

As most fans already know, Simmons played the entire 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons without making a single three-pointer. He appeared in 160 regular season games during those campaigns and finished 0-for-17 from deep, which doesn’t include his lone three-point miss in 22 postseason games.

At 6’10” and 230 pounds, Simmons is known to be one of the most versatile point guards in the NBA. His game would be much more dangerous for opposing defenses if the 23-year-old manages to develop a consistent stroke from three-point territory.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Celtics moved to sign Max Strus on a two-year deal largely because Strus was willing to add a fully non-guaranteed year in his contract next season, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. Strus has impressed Boston officials with his strong efforts in practice, earning a new deal with the organization on Sunday.
  • Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle looks ready to work for a spot in the team’s rotation this season, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes. Thybulle, 22, had his draft rights traded from Boston to Philadelphia after being selected with the No. 20 pick last June.
  • The Raptors will need even more production from fourth-year forward and reigning Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam in order to be successful again this year, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “We’ll give him a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunities to continue to expand his game,” head coach Nick Nurse said, according to Smith. “He should be somebody that has a great season. I think he can expand it and maybe (add) five, six points a game to his scoring average.”

Woj’s Latest: Beal, CP3, Lowry, Iguodala, Siakam

In a televised preseason special on Thursday night (audio link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe identified Bradley Beal as a player worth watching closely this season. Beal looks like the most obvious candidate of the NBA’s stars to become disgruntled and push for a trade during the 2019/20 season. However, as Wojnarowski notes, that hasn’t happened yet, and the Wizards are still all-in on trying to retain their All-Star guard.

“Bradley Beal’s got two years left on his deal and the Wizards have not given up hope of signing him to an extension,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve had a three-year, $111MM-or-so extension on the table for him to take in any form. Does he want two years, three years? Any form he wants, it is there waiting for him. So they are nowhere near the idea of moving Bradley Beal. They want to continue to try to rebuild around him.”

[RELATED: Why Bradley Beal won’t immediately accept Wizards’ extension offer]

As Woj and Lowe point out, a weak 2020 free agent class would make Beal an especially valuable trade chip if the Wizards’ stance changes, but there’s no indication that will happen anytime soon.

“Bradley Beal, if he got on the market, would bring back an absolute ransom because if you want to improve your team in a dramatic way, he’d be the guy,” Woj said. “But Washington’s not doing that. They still want to re-sign him.”

Here are a few more highlights from ESPN’s special featuring two of the network’s top basketball reporters:

  • The Thunder‘s plan when they acquired Chris Paul from Houston was to flip him to another team, according to Wojnarowski, who says OKC had hoped the Heat would be more open to making a deal. “He’s going to have to play really well in Oklahoma City for somebody to want to take on three years, $124MM [and] pay him $44MM in the final year of his contract,” Woj said of CP3. “That’s a really difficult proposition. … He has value in the league, but not at those numbers.”
  • Woj and Lowe think Raptors guard Kyle Lowry would generate a lot of interest on the trade market if Toronto becomes open to moving him. Both ESPN experts believe that Lowry’s one-year, $31MM extension actually makes him more appealing as a trade chip, since he wouldn’t be just a half-season rental. Lowe speculates that teams like the Heat, Pistons, and Clippers might have interest, while Woj singles out the Timberwolves as another potential fit.
  • According to Wojnarowski, both the Grizzlies and Andre Iguodala are willing to be patient when it comes to a potential trade or buyout. Woj likens Iguodala to MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, who often signed late in the season during the final few years of his career. “Iguodala’s fine with seeing what the landscape looks like and then jumping in on the season a little later,” Woj said. “Because you’re signing Andre Iguodala – or trading for him – for the postseason.” Woj added that the Lakers and Clippers would be the favorites to land the former Finals MVP if he’s bought out.
  • In a discussion on this year’s extension candidates (video link), Wojnarowski suggests that Raptors forward Pascal Siakam would be a lock for a maximum-salary offer sheet if he reaches restricted free agency next summer. Woj believes Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield would get a similar offer and that Jaylen Brown (Celtics) and Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) would do very well too, given the lack of veteran stars expected to hit the free agent market.

Pascal Siakam Reportedly Seeking Max Extension

The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam, is seeking a maximum-salary contract extension in discussions with the Raptors, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Siakam, who is eligible to sign a new deal up until October 21 at 5:00pm central time, would be a restricted free agent in 2020 if he doesn’t work something out with the Raptors this month.

A maximum extension for Siakam currently projects to be worth just north of $168MM over five years, starting in 2020/21. Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray have already signed similar deals, though theirs can be worth even more – starting at up to 30% of the salary cap, instead of 25% – if they meet certain All-NBA criteria during the 2019/20 season.

Both Siakam and Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri indicated last weekend that they’d like to get something done. The young forward said he loves playing in Toronto, a sentiment reiterated by Charania in his report. Ujiri, meanwhile, stressed that there’s no chance the team will let Siakam get away, even if the two sides don’t reach a deal until next summer.

“He’s somebody we’re definitely going to keep for a long time here,” Ujiri said of Siakam.

After posting modest numbers off the bench in 2017/18, Siakam broke out in a big way last year, averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 3.1 APG with a .549/.369/.785 shooting line in 80 games (31.9 MPG). His emergence helped the Raptors claim the first NBA championship in franchise history, and he’s expected to take on an even larger role in his fourth season with Kawhi Leonard no longer on the roster.

According to Charania, team executives around the NBA expect Siakam to take another leap this season. Throw in the fact that the 2020 free agent class is considered subpar and it’s certainly not unreasonable to believe the 25-year-old would secure a maximum-salary offer sheet on the open market if he becomes a restricted free agent next July.

Eastern Notes: Isaac, Giannis, Nets, Heat, Lowry

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac gets lead billing this year in Zach Lowe’s annual ESPN.com column on his six most intriguing players of the upcoming season. As Lowe details, Isaac has put on about 15-20 pounds this offseason as he looks to bulk up his thin frame a little, and the team has high hopes for him going forward, particularly on the defensive end.

According to Lowe, it’s “hard to overstate” how much Orlando loves Isaac. In fact, sources tell Lowe that the Magic have “batted away” any and all trade inquiries on the former No. 6 overall pick. The front office views Isaac as a standard-bearer for the culture that the team is trying to create, Lowe adds.

As we look forward to seeing whether a breakout year is coming for Isaac, here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • In an in-depth story for ESPN.com, Tim Bontemps examines the two possible long-term paths for the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible for a super-max contract extension next summer. Antetokounmpo’s decision on whether to re-up with the Bucks or explore other options will have a massive impact not just on basketball in Milwaukee but on the entire NBA.
  • The role of Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson in the team’s successful foray into free agency this summer shouldn’t be overlooked, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who points out that both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant praised Atkinson in their initial comments to the media last week.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald offers a pair of hypothetical trade scenarios that could see the Heat add Chris Paul and Bradley Beal to their roster. Although Jackson’s suggestions would certainly appeal to Miami, there has been no indication that the Wizards will move Beal or that the Thunder will meet the Heat’s demands in a CP3 trade.
  • While Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol figure to be mainstays in the Raptors‘ starting lineups, head coach Nick Nurse may shuffle through players for the other two spots, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets. Meanwhile, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca explores whether it makes sense for the Raptors and Lowry to work out an extension sooner rather than later.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Lowry, Anunoby

A report this week indicated that the Raptors and Pascal Siakam‘s representatives have engaged in preliminary discussions about a potential rookie scale contract extension. Speaking today to reporters, president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri confirmed that there have been conversations between the two sides and expressed no doubt that a deal will get done either by the October 21 deadline or during the 2020 offseason, when Siakam would be a restricted free agent.

“We’ve had conversations with Pascal’s representation,” Ujiri said (video link via Sportsnet.ca). “We’re excited. Whether it’s going to be this fall or whether it’s going to be in the summer, he’s somebody we’re definitely going to keep for a long time here.”

It remains to be seen what sort of price the Raptors will have to pay to lock up Siakam long-term, or whether they’ll end up waiting until the summer of 2020. The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player said that he’ll leave the negotiations up to his agents, but he’s looking forward to being a Raptor for the foreseeable future.

I love Toronto,” Siakam told Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “I love being here and I’m definitely hopeful we can get it done.”

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Siakam isn’t the only extension candidate in Toronto. Kyle Lowry confirmed at Media Day that his people have talked to the Raptors about a new deal, adding that he’s not worried about his upcoming free agency, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. The veteran point guard said his contract situation is an “ongoing conversation,” tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
  • As Murphy writes in his full round-up of Raptors Media Day, Ujiri admitted that the team will likely treat Lowry’s upcoming free agency a little differently than it would for other veterans on expiring contracts, given his legacy status with the franchise. Murphy suggests “it sure sounds like” Toronto wants to retain Lowry beyond 2019/20.
  • Serge Ibaka said that he gave Kawhi Leonard space to go through free agency without trying to influence his decision, tweets Lewenberg. After he made his decision, we spoke on the phone,” Ibaka said. “I said, ‘You know what bro, I’m a little sad you’re leaving us, it’s disappointing as a friend, but I’m happy for you.'”
  • OG Anunoby, who received praise from Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse today, isn’t lacking any confidence in the Raptors’ ceiling even with Kawhi no longer on the roster, as Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets. I think we’re gonna repeat,” Anunoby said. “We have a really good team and we believe in ourselves, and that’s all that matters.”
  • Some of Anunoby’s teammates expressed their confidence a little more cautiously. “I think it’s a very hungry team,” Marc Gasol said, per Lewenberg. “We all understand what Kawhi meant to the team and how well he played in the playoffs. But we also understand how good we can be as a team. So we are going to invest everything needed to be that team.”
  • Anunoby also said that he didn’t get his energy back until mid-July after undergoing an appendectomy last spring and said that winning the starting small forward job will be a priority for him this fall (Twitter links via Lewenberg).

Raptors Rumors: Siakam, Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka

The Raptors have engaged in “preliminary” discussions with Pascal Siakam‘s representatives about a potential contract extension, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Lewenberg cautions that there’s no indication a deal is imminent.

Siakam, who is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie scale contract, is eligible to sign a new deal up until 5:00pm CT on October 21, the day before the regular season begins. If he and the Raptors don’t reach an agreement by that point, he’d be on track for restricted free agency next summer.

After a breakout year in which he earned the NBA’s Most Improved Player award – and helped Toronto win its first championship – Siakam and his camp figure to be seeking a deal worth the max or close to it, Lewenberg notes. Based on the league’s latest cap projections, a four-year, maximum-salary contract for Siakam would be worth just shy of $130MM, while a five-year max would be worth $168.2MM.

With a pretty clean cap sheet for the 2020/21 season, the Raptors can afford such an investment and figure to pull the trigger at some point. However, it remains to be seen whether the two sides will strike a deal in the coming weeks, and exactly how much it’d be worth.

Here’s more on the defending NBA champions:

  • Although Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka have expiring contracts that could make them intriguing trade chips, league sources tell Sean Deveney of Heavy.com that the Raptors are happy with their situation and aren’t entertaining trade inquiries on those veterans.
  • One source with knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Deveney that the Raptors want to return to the postseason this spring, in part to sell the club to potential free agent targets. “This is where they always wanted to be,” that source said. “[President of basketball operations] Masai [Ujiri] was always going to rebuild things around Siakam and OG (Anunoby) and the other young guys eventually. He’s going to have a ton of cap space. But he’s got to be able to get free agents to go there and it’s still a tough sell, getting guys to go to Canada. So they’ve got the ring, if they can get to the playoffs again, he has something more to sell when that cap space comes available.”
  • In a separate article for TSN.ca, Lewenberg examines whether Anunoby is primed for a breakout season, explores what Toronto’s roster and rotation might look like, and touches on a handful of other Raptors-related topics.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Roster, Taylor, Tampering

Several coaches and executives believe Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has a strong case for a maximum extension after his breakthrough season, writes Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Siakam was fighting for playing time in his first two NBA campaigns, but he earned Most Improved Player honors for 2018/19 by posting a 16.9/6.9/3.1 line in 80 games.

“With Toronto in the situation that they’re in, no longer having Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green, Pascal Siakam may be a safe bet for them and they may want to give him a max extension to lock him up,” one Western Conference coach said. “I’ve been impressed with his development; he’s improved into a highly, highly serviceable player who’s very efficient and does a lot for that team. From the outside looking in, it seems like he’ll be able to continue his development too. He seems highly motivated and very grateful to be in the situation he’s in and he doesn’t take anything for granted.”

However, a couple of executives questioned whether Toronto should commit to a full max deal right now, saying it might be wiser to let him play out this season and negotiate with him as a restricted free agent next summer.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Doug Smith of The Toronto Star takes a look at the battle for roster spots as training camp draws closer. With 12 players holding guaranteed contracts and three with Exhibit 10 deals, Smith expects the competition for the three open slots to be decided among Cameron Payne, Isaiah Taylor, Malcolm Miller, Chris Boucher and Dewan Hernandez.
  • The two-year contract that Taylor signed this week contains a $50K guarantee for the first season, but no protection beyond that, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. If he stays on the roster, Taylor will receive $1.62MM for this season and $1.76MM for 2020/21. Marks notes that it’s similar to the deal that Payne received, though Payne’s guarantee was $150K.
  • Columnist Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star calls the NBA’s newly-adopted tougher stance on tampering more of a “nuisance” than a deterrent. He adds that little could be done to punish the Clippers for their aggressive recruitment of Leonard last season because the wealth of owner Steve Ballmer makes a $10MM fine insignificant, and most of the team’s upcoming draft picks already belong to Oklahoma City from the Paul George trade.

Eastern Notes: Gasol, Carter, Simmons, Booker

With Kawhi Leonard gone from Toronto, veteran big man Marc Gasol becomes even more important to the Raptors’ success this season and beyond than he was during the team’s memorable run to a title during the 2018/19 campaign, writes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.

With Leonard back home in California, forward Pascal Siakam becomes the undisputed future of the Raptors, with his development into a star of paramount concern for Toronto’s long term outlook. And as Tjarks analyzes, Siakam is at his best – or at least was last year – when playing alongside Gasol.

For one, Siakam loves to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim, so it’s important to play him with a center who can shoot well enough from the outside to drag Siakam’s defender out of the paint.

Additionally, Siakam is not yet an elite play-maker, so it helps to have other players like Gasol around him who can keep everyone else involved in the offense while Siakam plays in attack mode.

Finally, Gasol provides a large body that Toronto can use during the regular season to bang with big Eastern Conference centers like Joel Embiid over the course of an 82-game season. As Tjarks analogizes, Gasol essentially acts as a lead blocker for Siakam, clearing obstacles for Siakam to thrive.

There’s more tonight from the Eastern Conference:

And-Ones: Extension Deadlines, Team USA Scrimmages, James

The deadline for players to sign rookie extensions prior to opening night this upcoming season is Monday, October 21 at 6 p.m. ET, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. That group of 18 eligible players includes Pascal Siakam, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown.

The extension deadline is the same for a veteran with multiple years remaining on his contract who has met certain criteria, including All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Players with one year left (including a player option) have until June 30, 2020 to sign an extension.

Regular season rosters will also be set on October 21, while Saturday, October 19 will be the last day a team can waive a player with a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit, Marks adds (Twitter links here).

We have more from the basketball world:

  • The USA Basketball World Cup team will scrimmage against a collection of G League and fringe NBA players over the next three days, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. There are 15 players remaining on the USA roster with Monday’s withdrawal by Kyle Lowry and 12 will make the final roster that will compete in the FIBA tournament in China. The group they’ll scrimmage will be called the L.A. Select Team and be coached by Jeff Van Gundy. That team will include players who participated in FIBA qualifiers, including Scotty Hopson, Chasson Randle and Ben Moore, Givony adds in another tweet.
  • Former Suns and Pelicans guard Mike James has signed with CSKA Moscow, according to a tweet from the team. James played a total of 36 NBA games in 2017/18, averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.5 APG in 19.1 MPG. James appeared in 30 Euro League games with Olimpia Milano last season, averaging a league-high 19.8 PPG and 6.8 APG. James and the Italian team mutually parted ways late last month.
  • The NBA released 2019/20 season schedules for every team on Monday. You can find them here.