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The Raptors are trading forward Pascal Siakam to the Pacers according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Raptors are trading forward Pascal Siakam to the Pacers according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Indiana Pacers trade for Pascal Siakam in return for package with Bruce Brown, three first-round picks

The addition of two-time NBA All-Star Siakam shows the Pacers are in win-now mode.

The Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors agreed to a trade that sends Pascal Siakam to the Pacers in return for Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and three first-round draft picks. It was a deal that was rumored for weeks. The New Orleans Pelicans send a second-round pick to Indiana and Kira Lewis to the Raptors as part of the deal. 

Why did this trade happen?

This trade officially moves the Pacers off of their previously stated rebuild that they began in 2021. As opposed to the common rebuild of finding key pieces through the draft, as the Philadelphia 76ers did during their “trust the process” era, the Pacers have found most of their key players through trades.

The most notable example is the 2022 trade between the Pacers and Kings in which Indiana sent All-Star Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento in return for Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton. With Haliburton reaching near superstar status this season and leading the Pacers to the In-Season Tournament final, the mentality has changed in Indianapolis. The Pacers appear to have a win-now mentality, leading them to trade for the two-time All-NBA selection and 2019 NBA champion Siakam. 

Siakam's trade request earlier this season has now been fulfilled.

He's in the last year of his contract and he previously claimed he will be “testing free agency” this summer. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Siakam is “expected to be eager to work out a new contract with the franchise this summer."

This explains the three first-round picks that the Pacers were willing to give away.

Two of the first-round picks are in this year’s draft, which has been considered to be not nearly as deep as previous years. The picks are currently projected around 21st and 27th overall. The third first-round pick is the Pacers' own pick in 2026, when franchise executives believe it will be a good team. But if not, the pick is protected if it's in the top four. 

Here's what to expect from the remainder of the 2023-24 season for the Pacers

  • Another potential trade, as it has been known that Indiana is attempting to trade away Hield in order to retain young guard Andrew Nembhard alongside rising star Bennedict Mathurin. 

  • A stronger chance for a playoff run, given that this trade gives them a new, proven second option behind Haliburton. This also opens for a new big three between Haliburton, Siakam and Myles Turner, where each player can effectively space the floor.

  • Turner's defensive numbers will increase, as he may not need to spend as much energy on offense.

  • Obi Toppin’s reduced role. Haliburton missing time with a hamstring injury has opened the floor for new players. The Pacers’ lottery pick Jarace Walker has risen to an increased role and he could continue to get more minutes in the second half of the season. His defensive presence is stronger than Toppin’s already at such a young age (20 compared to 25, respectively), and with this new offensive threat, Siakam reduces Toppin's role further.

What's next for the Raptors?

  • They will continue to build around their 2022 Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, as their head coach Darko Rajaković said that he is the new and upcoming “face of the league." Their 2019 NBA Championship team’s core is fully gone after OG Anunoby and Siakam were both recently traded.

It will be interesting to see what moves are made not only to the rest of the Pacers' lineup through trades, but also how head coach Rick Carlisle constructs his starting fve and rotations off the bench. The main thing to look for is the improvement in minutes for Walker and Mathurin compared to the potential reduction in minutes for either Jalen Smith or Toppin.

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