The NBA trade season is in full swing after Pascal Siakam was traded to the Indiana Pacers yesterday. The deal came with various opinions, with some arguing that the Pacers won by upgrading their roster and filling team needs at a fair price. Others argue the Raptors won because the draft picks set them up for the future nicely, and they got good value for a pending free agent. Ultimately, I think this is a fair trade and a win-win. However, I believe the Pacers slightly got the better end of the deal for several reasons. Let’s dive into how this trade benefits Indiana.
BREAKING: The Indiana Pacers are finalizing a trade to acquire All-Star F Pascal Siakam in a deal that will send Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora and three first-round picks to the Toronto Raptors. New Orleans will be a third team in deal, sending Kira Lewis to the Raptors.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 17, 2024
3 Reasons Why the Pacers Won the Pascal Siakam Trade
Pascal Siakam: The Perfect Fit With The Pacers
Before this trade, the Pacers desperately needed a versatile forward and help on defense. Indiana’s 26th-ranked defense was a clear weak point that would be further exposed in the playoffs. Throughout the season, the Pacers had been trying Obi Toppin and Aaron Nesmith at the four spot. Both are quality role players but not long-term solutions. Similarly, the Pacers were loaded with guards but lacked forwards and size in their rotation. Siakam helps with all of that. He is a versatile defender who will elevate Indiana’s defense and give them a true stopper. This allows Myles Turner and Nesmith to play lesser, yet still impactful, defensive roles.
The lineup possibilities with Siakam are incredibly intriguing. The Pacers will start Siakam next to Turner and Nesmith in the frontcourt. However, they can play small ball with Siakam at the five; alternatively, they could run a jumbo ball lineup with Toppin, Siakam, and Turner in the frontcourt. Furthermore, Siakam gives the Pacers a legit second option and additional shot creation. They have the top-ranked offence, so this wasn’t the biggest need. Nevertheless, these abilities will be welcomed – Siakam projects to be an ideal fit next to star Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton’s playmaking abilities could evaluate Siakam’s scoring, and the two-man game possibilities with this duo are endless. One important note about this trade and the long-term fit is that all signs point to Siakam re-signing with the Pacers this offseason. Otherwise, trading for Siakam would have plenty of risk.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 17, 2024
Picks Are Overrated
To be clear, not all draft picks are overrated. Going full Nets’ Billy King and trading years of future draft capital for aging veterans is never a smart idea. However, for competitive teams, picks are inherently less valuable. This is especially the case for these three draft picks. The two first-round picks in 2024 will be towards the end of the first round, with one pick being the worst of the Clippers, Thunder, Jazz, or Rockets’ pick and the other being Indiana’s own pick this year.
These picks give the rebuilding Raptors some flexibility and value, but this is a historically bad draft class, so moving these picks is a no-brainer for a competitive team. The third first-round pick is Indiana’s own pick in 2026 and is top-four protected. This could end up being the most valuable asset the Pacers gave up, but they have a bright future, so it will likely also be within the 20s. Furthermore, the Pacers still have plenty of young developmental talent. They are hanging on to numerous players under 25, including Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard, Jarace Walker, Isaiah Jackson, and Jalen Smith making the Siakam trade a bargain for the Pacers. From the Raptors’ perspective, not getting any young talent feels disappointing. This is especially considering the context of these draft picks and that Toronto is considering flipping Bruce Brown.
Details on the Pacers picks to Toronto, per sources:
2024: two first-rounders – one via Indiana and one via worst of OKC/Utah/ Houston/Clippers
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 17, 2024
The Pacers are competing for home-court advantage in the playoffs and are just 1.5 games back from the fourth seed. This trade certainly moves the needle and ultimately could result in them hosting a playoff series. It makes sense to go into a win-now mode when you have a star like Haliburton and have shown all the signs of being a competitive team. This will always be my philosophy: when you have the star, you should always look to maximize his chances of winning. That’s not to say the Pacers are title contenders now, but an Eastern Conference Finals run feels at least possible. Regardless, this trade will make Haliburton and the young Pacers much more competitive in the playoffs, developing valuable playoff experience in the process.