The Toronto Raptors will enter a key stretch of their franchise core-building, as young Pascal Siakam, the NBA’s Most Improved Player last season, is due for an extension of his rookie contract. NBA executives are divided on whether the 25-year-old is deserving of a max extension or not, as some believe he’s worth the risk, while others feel the Raptors are better playing this one by ear.
“Siakam has a legit case for a max,” the executive told Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. “Would I give the max to any of the other players up for extensions? Hell no. I consider these factors: whether the player has an impact on winning, whether he is a great fit for our culture, whether he still has room for growth and whether he can be the best player on a championship-caliber team.”
At this point with Kawhi Leonard gone and Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka on expiring contracts, Siakam is the no-brainer future of the franchise and a player that is expected to evolve that much more, going from a second scorer to the go-to guy on offense.
“With Toronto in the situation that they’re in, no longer having Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green, Pascal Siakam may be a safe bet for them and they may want to give him a max extension to lock him up,” said another executive. “I’ve been impressed with his development; he’s improved into a highly, highly serviceable player who’s very efficient and does a lot for that team. From the outside looking in, it seems like he’ll be able to continue his development too. He seems highly motivated and very grateful to be in the situation he’s in and he doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Yet some others believe that one outstanding season is simply not enough to deem Siakam that caliber of player.
“I think they’re going to try to extend him,” said an Eastern Conference GM. “I haven’t talked to Toronto, but he’s obviously a huge piece for them, helped them win a championship, he’s getting better, he’s young, he’s athletic and he can shoot. They’re going to try to extend him. Do I think he’s a max player? No. Do I think he’s a good player? Certainly. It’ll come down to what he thinks he’s worth, and I’m sure his agents have called around to see what kind of offers he could get if he enters restricted free agency.”
Siakam has the potential to become a max-level talent, but it will be up to him to show the Raptors just that during the course of the season before the front office can comfortably pull the trigger on a deal. Getting a max extension will put him right out there with the likes of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Devin Booker, and Jamal Murray as some of the upper echelon young talents to hold that level of importance within their respective teams.