Pascal Siakam

Raptors Notes: Roster Battle, Siakam, Boucher, Anunoby

The fight to make the Raptors‘ 15-man regular season squad has been one of the NBA’s more competitive preseason roster battles, with Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright, and Isaac Bonga vying to earn two spots (or just one, if Toronto opens the season with 14 players). Addressing the competition today, Dekker said he’ll be happy for Wainright and/or Bonga if they beat him out for a roster spot.

“These are guys I’ll stay in touch with for a long time no matter what and I’m always going to cheer for them, because it’s the weakness of a man to root for someone to fail,” Dekker said, adding that his current teammates are some of the “kindest human beings” he knows (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

Wainright also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to make his case for a regular season roster spot, regardless of what the Raptors decide.

“No matter how it goes, I’m not going to hang my head,” Wainright said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “My family always told me when one door closes, another opens. I’m coming out of this a better man, a better basketball player, a better person, period… Whatever happens, I gave it my all from start to finish.”

All three players have had strong camps, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). While many teams will set their rosters by Saturday, the Raptors could wait until Monday if they want, since Dekker, Wainright, and Bonga all have partial guarantees. That means their cap hits would remain unchanged if they don’t clear waivers until after the regular season begins, unlike a player on a non-guaranteed deal, who must be waived by Saturday for a team to avoid incurring a small cap charge.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday, head coach Nick Nurse said that Pascal Siakam (shoulder) is starting contact work this week and may only be a few weeks away from returning, while big man Chris Boucher (finger) is about 10 days away (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca).
  • With Siakam sidelined to start the season and Kyle Lowry no longer a Raptor, the team is grooming OG Anunoby to be a centerpiece of its offense, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “He’s our number one option right now,” Fred VanVleet said of his teammate. “He’s been great, he’s been assertive finding his spots, I think me and him are finding a little bit of rhythm together, so it’s good to see.”
  • Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca takes a look at the battle between Goran Dragic and Gary Trent Jr. for the second starting spot in the backcourt alongside VanVleet, suggesting Dragic appears to have the upper hand.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic didn’t love the terms of the Raptors’ free agent contracts with Trent and Khem Birch, but praised the team for getting Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk on a minimum-salary deal. Hollinger projects the team to finish with a 40-42 record, good for ninth in the East.

Raptors Notes: Dragic, Siakam, Vaccination Status

Goran Dragic doesn’t know how long he’ll be with the Raptors, but he’s willing to accept whatever role the team wants him to play, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The veteran guard was acquired from the Heat this summer in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. There were rumors at the time that he might be shipped to Dallas, but that deal never materialized.

With a $19.5MM expiring contract, the 35-year-old point guard could become a valuable trade chip before the February deadline. A report this week said no deal involving Dragic appears imminent, and Toronto has little incentive to pursue a buyout before the deadline arrives.

Dragic used Monday’s media day to repeat an apology for comments he made to Slovenian reporters last month indicating that he didn’t want to be with the Raptors. He told Smith that his statement was taken out of context.

“You know, it came out wrong. I did apologize and I want to apologize right now, too,” Dragic said. “It was not my intention. But you know, the organization and the players, they welcomed (me). It was really nice; all the guys are nice. They want me, you know, to feel comfortable and I do feel comfortable here, for the past two weeks.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Pascal Siakam hasn’t been cleared for contact yet in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, but the Raptors are optimistic about his progress, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “He looks good,” said general manager Bobby Webster. “He’s in a really positive head space. I think he’s happy and ready to go.” Siakam has been working out on his own at the team’s practice facility, and coach Nick Nurse hopes he’ll be ready relatively early in the season (Twitter link). American Thanksgiving, which falls on November 25, could be a realistic target date, tweets Michael Grange of The Athletic.
  • Lowry’s departure leaves Siakam as the team leader for the first time in his career, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen suggests that Siakam may benefit from a month or so of not playing, which will give him a chance to study his teammates and see the best ways he can help. “We had a conversation with Masai (Ujiri), and it was me, it was OG (Anunoby) and it was Fred (VanVleet),” Siakam said. “Everyone else is gonna be young. … ‘We’re gonna go wherever you guys take us.’ I think that’s the focus. … I don’t like the word ‘the guy.’ I don’t like using it. I want to be the guy who wins. I want to win. I remember when we went to Vegas for dinner and I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Damn, I feel like I’m the oldest here.’ It was weird, a weird feeling I never had before. It’s gonna be a process, but I’m excited about it.”
  • Visiting players who haven’t been vaccinated will be able to receive a National Interest Exemption to play in Toronto, according to The Athletic. They must test negative after arriving in Canada and won’t be able to leave the team hotel, other than to go to Scotiabank Arena. Raptors players are almost fully vaccinated and the team expects to reach that status by opening night, according to Murphy (Twitter link).

Pascal Siakam Talks Trade Rumors, Shoulder Injury, More

Pascal Siakam was the subject of some trade rumors earlier in the NBA offseason, but the Raptors reportedly assured the forward and his camp that they weren’t looking to move him, and Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar publicly stated that his client wasn’t looking to be moved.

Speaking to Sopan Deb of The New York Times, Siakam publicly weighed in on those trade rumors himself for the first time, suggesting that he envisions himself remaining in Toronto long-term. Siakam told Deb that he wasn’t irritated by the offseason rumors, since all the reports framed any trade discussions as teams pursuing him, rather than the Raptors shopping him.

“It didn’t bother me really, because I never really heard anything from the Raptors. Even all the news I was seeing it was never like: ‘Oh. The Raptors wanted to give up Siakam for this,'” he said. “It was always like, ‘The Warriors like Pascal,’ or it was always, ‘The Kings like Pascal,’ or this. There was never nothing where it was like, ‘The Raptors wanted to give away Pascal.'”

Siakam’s conversation with Deb touched on several other topics, including his rehab from shoulder surgery, his run-in with head coach Nick Nurse, and Kyle Lowry‘s departure from Miami. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are some highlights:

On where he’s at in the rehab process:

“I’m shooting, ball handling. I think at this point in the process I look better than I thought I was expecting at least or I’m doing more than I thought I would do at that time.”

On his altercation with Nurse:

“I don’t think it was that bad… This is what happened: It was after a game. I’m just so frustrated. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re losing and I’m just mad I didn’t play and I could’ve really helped my team.’ And we’re having a losing season and I think those things happen between a coach and a player.

“Obviously, I probably used language, uh, people use. It is what it is, but I don’t think it was such a big deal because after that situation happened, we talked. We are on good terms. It was just an argument. Literally one argument and like: ‘Oh, I’m mad at this. I’m yelling and this is it.’ That’s it. Grown men.”

On becoming one of the Raptors’ centerpieces following Kawhi Leonard‘s departure in 2019:

“For me at that point when I started becoming that person, I just felt like there wasn’t that much level of communication (from the team), to be honest. And that was the only thing really that I felt. It was like, ‘We got you the max contract, but are you the guy?’ I think that’s something that I was struggling with.

“Kyle was, to me, always the greatest Raptor of all time. I think he was always like, ‘I was the guy.’ I had the contract, but I never really felt like I was the guy, to be honest. … And I think those conversations are happening now.”

On his expectations for himself in 2021/22:

“I feel like when the season was ending, I was catching a rhythm, finally feeling good. ‘Man, I just had Covid. Lost 20 pounds.’ These are things that I was going through, and I feel like I’ve always gotten better in my eyes. And I think there’s another level that I can definitely get to. And for me, I definitely see myself as an All-Star. Potentially, wanting to be a most valuable player in the league one day. But for me, I do think that there’s definitely a lot more to unleash into my dream that’s going to take me to the next level.”

Agent: Pascal Siakam Doesn’t Want To Be Traded

Pascal Siakam has been the subject of trade rumors following the Raptors‘ disappointing season, but the fifth-year forward isn’t looking to be moved, agent Todd Ramasar said in an NBC Sports podcast.

“That’s the last thing on his mind,” Ramasar said. “… He loves it there. Yes. He won a championship. … That’s never come from us that there’s a change … Because of the pandemic, because the Raptors missed the playoffs, there’s been a lot of speculation around (about a trade), but it’s not because of Pascal or anything he’s said. Or even the organization. I think that’s just the chatter that picks up going into an offseason.”

Ramasar’s statement meshes with a report last week that Toronto isn’t trying to trade Siakam during this offseason. He’s under contract for $106MM over the next three seasons, so there’s no urgency to make a move, even if the team decides he’s not in its long-term future.

Several teams called this summer to see if Siakam is available, sources tell NBC Sports, and the Kings, Warriors and Clippers have been mentioned among those who expressed interest.

Siakam’s performance declined last season, which led to speculation that he might be on the trade market. Although he averaged 21.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 56 games, those numbers were down slightly from the 2019/20 season and his efficiency dipped as well. The Raptors’ decision to draft Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick fueled rumors that Siakam might be headed elsewhere.

However, there were factors that contributed to Siakam’s decline. He was among several players who contracted COVID-19 midway through the year, and he suffered a shoulder injury late in the season that forced him to have surgery.

Siakam is currently rehabbing from that operation and Ramasar expects him to reach an All-Star level again. Also, his agent wants to remove any distractions that trade rumors might be causing.

“First of all, it’s about understanding when it is purely speculation as opposed to there being some substance to that, right? Is there traction to those rumors?” Ramasar said. “It starts with having good communication and a great relationship with the team and management, and communication. And it’s understanding that, because this is a business, at any point you can be traded… But in this situation, knowing that it was more so speculation than anything else, it’s having those conversations with the client. It’s also the team reassuring the player, in this case Pascal, and then you move forward and stay in control of the things you have control over.”

Latest On Pascal Siakam

Despite being the subject of several offseason trade rumors, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Amick, who reported earlier in the summer that the Kings were “definitely” interested in Siakam, spoke in Las Vegas with multiple people close to the situation and says he doesn’t get the sense that the Raptors have any interest in moving the former All-Star this offseason. President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster have been willing to listen to inquiries, Amick notes, but they aren’t shopping Siakam.

Besides Sacramento, the Warriors and Clippers are among the other teams said to have Siakam on their radar. He remains under contract with the Raptors for $106MM over the next three years.

As Amick outlines, there were multiple reasons why executives around the NBA believed that Siakam might be available via trade this offseason. Toronto’s decision to use the No. 4 pick in the draft on forward Scottie Barnes instead of guard Jalen Suggs was one; Siakam’s friction with Raptors head coach Nick Nurse last season was another.

However, sources tell Amick that any tension between Siakam and Nurse has “long since been smoothed over” and that Ujiri and the Raptors have been in touch with the forward’s camp to make it clear the team has a vision for how he, Barnes, and the rest of the team’s pieces will fit together on the court. And for his part, Siakam wants to remain with the Raptors, Amick adds.

Siakam underwent shoulder surgery in June and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the 2021/22 campaign, so Toronto may not get to see its full roster in action until at least a month or two into the season. If the fit isn’t as smooth as the Raptors envision, perhaps things will change on the Siakam front at that point, but for now it looks like he’s part of the club’s plans going forward.

Atlantic Notes: McBride, Brown, Siakam, Achiuwa

The contract that rookie point guard Miles McBride signed with the Knicks covers three years, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video link). Marks reports that the first two seasons in the deal are guaranteed, while the third is a team option. The team used cap room to complete the signing.

McBride, 20, was selected with the No. 36 pick out of West Virginia. The 6’2″ guard was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team for the 2020/21 season, his sophomore year. During his final collegiate season, McBridge averaged 15.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.9 RPG, on a .431/.414/.813 shooting line.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Do-everything Nets guard Bruce Brown drew outside interest as a free agent but said that he always knew he wanted to remain in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). Brown, 24, opted to accept a one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from the Nets, and will be an unrestricted free agent next season. “I really didn’t pay it any mind, honestly,” Brown said of the decision to remain in Brooklyn, per Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com. “I thought everything would take care of itself. I really was just working out the whole time, and then when free agency started, I actually was on the plane back to New York. So I didn’t really talk to anybody until I landed. I’m just happy to be back. It’s a great fit. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
  • Appearing on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster downplayed ongoing rumblings about a potential impending Pascal Siakam trade. “Teams call on our players and we call on other teams’ players,” Webster said, per Steven Loung of Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • New Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa, acquired as part of the sign-and-trade that sent point guard Kyle Lowry to the Heat, is excited to contribute however he can to a winning culture with Toronto, writes Neil Davidson of The Toronto Star“Rebounding,” Achiuwa said, explaining what he brings to the team. “Guarding multiple positions. Creating offense for my teammates with screens, pick-and-rolls. Passing the ball. Just whatever it takes to win basketball games. Getting loose balls… For me, it’s all about winning.” During his rookie season in Miami, Achiuwa averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 12.1 MPG after being selected 20th overall in the 2020 draft.

Kings, Warriors, Clippers Eyeing Pascal Siakam

The Kings, Warriors, and Clippers are among the teams believed to be especially “enamored” with forward Pascal Siakam, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Anderson that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has received numerous trade inquiries on Siakam and is “listening like a good negotiator.” However, while a deal is possible, Anderson’s source doesn’t believe it’s likely, noting that Siakam has no desire to be moved.

Siakam’s name has popped up in trade rumors throughout the offeason. John Hollinger of The Athletic first suggested in June that the former All-Star was on Golden State’s radar, and multiple subsequent reports referenced a leaguewide belief that Siakam could be had, particularly in the wake of Toronto using the No. 4 pick to draft Scottie Barnes.

Sam Amick of The Athletic said last week that Sacramento “definitely” has interest in Siakam, and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report stated that the Trail Blazers engaged in some preliminary discussions involving the veteran forward.

If the Kings were to make an offer for Siakam, it would likely include Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III, and at least one future first-round pick, per Anderson. While that would be a perfect salary match, it’s not clear if such a package would be enough to seriously entice Toronto, Anderson acknowledges.

Siakam is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and will likely miss a little time at the start of the 2021/22 season.

The Kings have also displayed interest in Sixers star Ben Simmons, Anderson confirms, adding that GM Monte McNair seems motivated to make a major roster move as the pressure to win begins to build. Outside Sacramento, there’s a sense that McNair and his front office – installed just a year ago – are already “feeling the heat” from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to take a significant step forward, says Anderson.

Trade Rumors: Kings, Siakam, Raptors, Dragic, Spurs, Markkanen

The Kings “definitely” have trade interest in Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, Sam Amick of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Deuce & Mo Podcast (video link).

There have whispers this offseason – particularly since the Raptors used the No. 4 overall pick to draft Scottie Barnes – that Siakam is available via trade, but Amick says the Kings have been waiting for clarity on just how willing Toronto might be to move him. Sacramento would likely pursue Siakam if given the chance, though it’s unclear how much interest the Raptors would have in possible trade chips like Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • It’s looking more and more like Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa – the two primary outgoing pieces in the Heat‘s Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade – will end up with the Raptors, at least for the time being, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. The Raptors are believed to be exploring flipping Dragic to a third team, such as the Mavericks, but apparently haven’t found a deal they like yet.
  • Dragic, for his part, offered the following update on Slovenian television on Tuesday, per Iztok Franko of Mavs Moneyball (Twitter link): I haven’t heard from Toronto yet, I’m still waiting for the news. Everything depends on the third team, we’ll have the news in the next few days.”
  • Before agreeing to acquire Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu in their DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade with the Bulls, the Spurs were interested in landing Lauri Markkanen via sign-and-trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast. However, according to Windhorst, Markkanen sought a larger contract than the Spurs were comfortable offering, prompting the team to pivot to the veterans on expiring contracts. Windhorst believes there’s a “decent chance” Markkanen – a restricted free agent – will end up returning to Chicago.

Trade Rumors: Raptors, McCollum, SGA, Celtics, Wolves

As long as Ben Simmons remains in Philadelphia and Kyle Lowry hasn’t reached an agreement in free agency, league sources aren’t ruling out the possibility of a deal between the Sixers and Raptors that would send Lowry to his hometown via sign-and-trade, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, with several suitors expected to pursue Lowry aggressively in free agency, that doesn’t appear to be a likely outcome for the time being.

According to Fischer, one intriguing trade framework that the Raptors have discussed with the Trail Blazers would involve Pascal Siakam and CJ McCollum. But those talks haven’t gathered any real momentum yet, Fischer cautions.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s name popped up in trade rumors leading up to the draft, the Thunder never offered him to the Cavaliers in negotiations for the No. 3 pick, according to Fischer, who reports that Oklahoma City only made present and future draft assets available in those discussions. The expectation is that the Thunder and Gilgeous-Alexander will reach an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension this offseason, Fischer adds.
  • Before agreeing to a deal to acquire Josh Richardson from Dallas, the Celtics also expressed trade interest in Grizzlies wing Kyle Anderson, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Timberwolves, who have long been in the market for a power forward, inquired on Danilo Gallinari before agreeing to send Ricky Rubio to Cleveland, says Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. The Hawks turned down Minnesota’s offer for Gallinari.

Windhorst’s Latest: Grizzlies, Kings, Pelicans, CP3, Siakam, Simmons

Before they agreed to a deal with the Pelicans that sent Jonas Valanciunas to New Orleans and the No. 10 pick to Memphis, the Grizzlies made it “pretty far down the road” in talks with the Kings about a similar trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast.

According to Windhorst, the deal the Grizzlies and Kings discussed would’ve involved Marvin Bagley III and the No. 9 pick going to Memphis, with Valanciunas heading to Sacramento. It’s not clear what other pieces were included in those discussions.

Here are a few more items of note from Windhorst’s podcast:

  • Kyle Lowry has frequently been cited as the Pelicans‘ top point guard target in free agency, but the team would also be interested in making a run at Chris Paul, believing his connection to former Phoenix assistant Willie Green could help sell him on a return to New Orleans, says Windhorst. However, according to Windhorst, the feeling around the NBA is that Paul will ultimately stick with the Suns.
  • Discussing the Raptors‘ decision to select forward Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick, Windhorst suggested that Toronto has “offered Pascal Siakam around” this offseason. An earlier report indicated that some teams believe the Raptors will become more inclined to pursue a Siakam trade with Barnes in the fold.
  • Confirming some other reports that have surfaced in recent days, Windhorst says the Sixers‘ asking price in Ben Simmons talks has been extremely high. Windhorst’s take on the offers he has heard about: “(They’ve been) so aggressive and outlandish that it makes you walk away saying, ‘They’re not really trying to trade him.'”