NBA trade grades: Pacers mortgage future to land All-Star forward

Pascal Siakam is on his way to the Indiana Pacers. Here's how the deal shakes out for both sides.
Myles Turner, Pascal Siakam
Myles Turner, Pascal Siakam / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of speculation, Pascal Siakam is on his way to the Indiana Pacers, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. The return package for the Toronto Raptors includes Bruce Brown Jr. and three first-round picks.

Siakam, 29, is averaging 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on .522/.317/.758 splits in 39 games this season. Brown, 27, is putting up 12.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on .475/.327/.817 splits through 33 games.

This is a major investment from the Pacers. Siakam is expected to test the free agency waters next summer. He is eligible to sign a two-year extension with Indiana once the trade is complete, but he has every incentive to wait until the offseason, when he can secure more guaranteed money over a longer period of time.

That, of course, means Siakam could walk for nothing. Several teams are bound to take interest in his services. The Pacers will hope a half-season next to Tyrese Haliburton is enough to convince the two-time All-NBA forward to stick around.

Here is the official statement from Todd Ramasar, Siakam's agent:

"I’m excited that Pascal is getting a first class opportunity with the Pacers, being paired with Tyrese and Myles and being coached by a great coach in Rick Carlisle. His future their {sic} looks bright there."

For Toronto, this is a significant haul for an expiring contract. Siakam generally doesn't get enough credit for his immense talent and winning impact, but he was all but finished in Toronto. The Raptors are preparing to move in a different direction. A handful of first-round picks — plus another tradeable contract in Brown — is a boon for their retool.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Raptors will also receive Jordan Nwora from the Pacers and Kira Lewis Jr. from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans will send a second-round pick to Indiana. This move nixes $18 million in luxury tax penalties for New Orleans, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.

NBA trade grades: Pacers-Raptors strike deal for Pascal Siakam

The Pacers are giving up a lot for Siakam, but there is a classic adage that applies perfectly to this situation — no risk, no reward. The Pacers are on the verge of contention in the East. Tyrese Haliburton is a bonafide MVP candidate with the chops to lead a contender. Siakam has been second banana on a champion before.

This is a needle-mover for Indiana. Siakam is one of the top transition scorers in the NBA. The Raptors averaged seven points more per 100 possessions in transition with Siakam on the floor, in the 90th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass. The Pacers are a top-10 transition team, spurred by Haliburton's innate gift for hit-ahead passes and crafty fast-break playmaking.

Siakam will operate with a spaced floor in an up-tempo offense that suits his skill set. Rick Carlisle is an established head coach who should quickly earn Siakam's buy-in. Haliburton has been on the recruiting front ever since he arrived in Indiana. His winning personality, aided by an equally winning style of play, should make Siakam feel right at home. Few NBA stars, if any, elevate their teammates to the extent Haliburton does.

It's difficult to stomach three first-round picks for an expiring contract, but the Pacers immediately gain the upper-hand when it comes to signing Siakam in the offseason. At 23-17, Indiana is currently the No. 6 seed in the East. With Siakam, it's not unreasonable to think Indiana can push for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Pacers trade grade: B+

It's hard to dispute the Raptors' haul here. The Raptors receive an impactful rotation peice (and potential future trade chip) in Brown, who was integral to the Denver Nuggets' 2023 championship run. Masai Ujiri and the front office have placed a clear emphasis on maintaing respectability, rather than outright tanking. Immanuel Quickley and R.J. Barrett arrived in the OG Anunoby trade. Now the Raptors add Brown, whose skill set should complement Darko Rajakovic's system well. Jordan Nwora is less proven, but he is only 25 years old with legitimate shooting equity.

In addition to Brown, the Raptors stock up on future picks. The 2024 NBA Draft class isn't exactly lauded for its depth of talent, but the Raptors will get a chance to pepper the roster with quality young talent in addition to the Scottie Barnes-led core.

There was never any indication that Siakam wanted to leave Toronto, but it was past time for the Raptors to move on and reset. Considering the circumstances, this is strong value for an expiring All-Star. Siakam relies very much on speed, physicality, and agility, so there's a natural concern about how his game will age — not to mention the contract situation. The Raptors probably didn't want to pay Siakam the max contract he desires and deserves.

The Raptors could have pushed harder for one of Indiana's young guns, such as Bennedict Mathurin or Jarace Walker, but there's no reason to believe the Pacers would have obliged. This is a victory for both sides.

Raptors trade grade: B

MLB RUMORS. 3 teams who could contend with a Buddy Hield trade. 3 teams who could contend with a Buddy Hield trade. dark