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Conference rival makes big splash with trade

Was the Siakam deal worth it?

Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Earlier today, it was reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Indiana Pacers had acquired All-Star forward Pascal Siakam in a three-team deal that will see Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, three first-round picks and Kira Lewis head to the Raptors. Unfortunately, sentimental Knicks fans that wanted to see former Knick, Obi Toppin, join his old teammates, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett in Toronto, won’t get their wish. And also unfortunately for Knicks fans, this makes the Pacers a serious threat to secure home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Siakam is in the midst of yet another very solid season and is averaging 22.2PPG, 6.3RPG, and 4.9APG while shooting 52.2% from the field and 75.8% from the free-throw line and pairing him up with Tyrese Halliburton, who has established himself as one of the premier playmakers in the league, should lead to some incredible results on that end of the floor. Halliburton has never had a roll-man nearly as skilled as Siakam and now the Pacers can be even more creative on that end of the floor as they now have two players who can not only get their own shots but create for others as well. The Pacers already lead the league in offensive rating at with a rating of 121.6, and adding Siakam should only elevate those numbers even more.

Now, the Pacers, much like the Knicks did in their trade for OG Anunoby, did lose some depth, but overall, the combination of Halliburton, Siakam, and Myles Turner is one that fits perfectly and should make them significantly better for the remainder of the season. And like a lot of the teams battling for a top four seed in the eastern conference, the Pacers still have plenty of time to make some moves to sure up any weaknesses and holes as they prepare for an extended playoff run.

But there is still the looming questions of what this means long-term and if the Pacers gave up too much. Nobody in their right mind would question if the Pacers got better today, but is giving up Brown, Nwora, and three first-round picks (even if they are likely to outside of the lottery) too much for a player who has repeatedly stated that he intends to test free-agency? There is a chance that Siakam leaves for nothing in just a few months, which would leave a pretty sour taste in their mouths considering they gave up multiple first-round picks, which still remains the most sought-after asset among front offices. And even if Siakam does return, the Pacers would likely be looking at paying him an estimated $50 million per season for the foreseeable future. While Siakam is a very solid player, there is a very strong argument to be made that that would be a bad contract. That kind of money is too much for anyone besides maybe four or five guys in the league let alone Siakam, who is a 29 year-old player who has nice averages of 22.8PPG, 7.6RPG and 4.8APG over his last five seasons but has never been the leading man on a deep playoff run.

Sure, there’s a world where he changes his mind about signing an extension before then or ends up taking a bit of a pay cut during the offseason but even then, investing that much draft capital and money into a player who has never been elite seems like an incredibly huge gamble. Maybe it pays off, or maybe the Pacers are just trying to do right by Halliburton and show him that they are trying to surround him with more talent. But as of now, with the information we have, it seems like an overpay. Don’t get me wrong, the Pacers clearly got better today and the Knicks now have another team that they really need to worry about. But thinking ahead and looking at the bigger picture beyond just this season, there’s just so much that could go wrong and that would worry me a bit especially since I still don’t see this Pacers team as being good enough to really content just yet.