The NBA's trade deadline is Feb. 8, but the Toronto Raptors might already be done with their franchise overhaul. After recently sending OG Anunoby to the Knicks, the Raptors on Wednesday traded All-Star forward Pascal Siakam to Indiana for Bruce Brown, a couple of young throw-in players and three first-round picks. That puts the Raptors in a tough spot Wednesday at home vs. Miami, which has jumped from -1 to -3.5 on the SportsLine consensus. The total is down to 225 from a high of 228.
What is the one thing that Anunoby and Siakam have in common? Both are set for free agency this summer. Most thought the Raptors did well for to get RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley from the Knicks for Anunoby, and they have played better in Toronto. The two ex-Knicks have both scored least 20 points in same game three times since being traded to the Raptors, a span of eight total games. They had just two such games with the Knicks this season.
Quickley has scored 20 or more points in five of his eight games with Toronto, averaging 18.9 points, 5.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds and shooting 46.9% from 3-point range. Barrett, a Toronto native, has scored at least 20 in four of his past five outings, averaging 22.4 points and shooting 59.4% from the field while adding 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in that span.
The 29-year-old Siakam is a two-time All-Star and two-time member of an All-NBA team. The former New Mexico State star, an absolute steal as the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 draft, became the first player to play in the G League and to start an All-Star Game a few years ago. Siakam played in his 510th career game with the Raptors on Monday, surpassing Chris Bosh for fifth on Toronto's all-time games played list. He tallied 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in a loss to Boston.
Siakam is averaging 22.2 points on 52.2% shooting, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game this season, certainly All-Star-worthy numbers. He was no longer the top player the Raptors, as that role belongs to rising young superstar Scottie Barnes. This deal and the Anunoby trade signal that Toronto is rebuilding around Barnes, who will have to be signed to a max contract soon. The money wasn't there to pay Barnes and re-sign both Anunoby and Siakam. The Raptors weren't close to being title contenders and aren't even in playoff contention with all three regardless.
Social media is abuzz that Indiana fleeced Toronto in sending guard Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and three first-round picks to the Raptors, and it does look like a great trade for the Pacers as long as they can re-sign Siakam. They will have the salary-cap space to do it. New Orleans is the third team in the deal, sending Kira Lewis to the Raptors and a second-round pick to the Pacers. According to ESPN, two of the first-round picks going to the Raptors are for 2024 -- Indiana's selection and the lesser of a Utah/Houston/Oklahoma City pick -- while the third is for 2026 (from Indiana). None of those picks will be very high in Round 1.
It's not clear how Toronto coach Darko Rajakovic will replace Siakam in the starting lineup, but this is a small team right now with starting center Jakob Poeltl out for a few weeks. Point guard Dennis Schroder could return to the starting five tonight. Gary Trent could also be in the mix if he's healthy -- he missed the last game with flu-like symptoms.
Miami has won three in a row and got All-Star Jimmy Butler back from a seven-game injury absence Monday. He calmly hit two free throws in the final seconds of overtime for a 96-95 overtime win in Brooklyn. Butler finished with 31 points, five rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes. Good-looking rookie Jaime Jaquez and big man Kevin Love sat Monday and will remain out Wednesday.
Toronto is 0-1 without Siakam this season, losing 126-120 at the Clippers last Wednesday when Siakam got the second game of a back-to-back off. The team was 6-5 without him last season. Below is the SportsLine Projection Model's forecast for Indiana and Toronto after the trade. It seems rather pessimistic on Indiana because Siakam fills a gaping hole. The Pacers currently sit sixth in the East and this hugely helps to get a pass straight into the East playoffs as long as Tyrese Haliburton gets back healthy.
|w/ Bruce Brown
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