Raptors’ Pascal Siakam seeking max deal

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Following a breakout season that culminated with an NBA Championship and a Most improved Player award, Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is a rising star in the NBA.

And with one year remaining on his rookie-scale contract, he wants to get paid like one.

The Cameroon native reportedly wants to sign a max contract with the Raptors and remain in Toronto, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

“Siakam is seeking a maximum contract extension in discussions with the Raptors, league sources said; otherwise preparing for a 2020 free agency market that would have the restricted free agent as a top player available.”

Siakam is eligible for two max deals: a four-year max at $130 million with a rival team, or a five-year max at $170 million with the Raptors. If he were to sign a max deal, he’d become the third player — along with Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray — from the 2016 NBA Draft class to earn a max. Siakam will earn $2.4 million in the final year of his current contract.

After watching superstars such as Kawhi Leonard and Chris Bosh leave town in free agency, the Raptors are surely thrilled to have a budding superstar who’s genuinely interested in staying in Toronto. But that doesn’t mean the team will spring to whip up a max offer for Siakam any time soon.

If the Raptors were to sign Siakam to a max deal right now, his cap hit next season would kick in at his new max salary, which projects to be around $30 million. But if Toronto were to wait on a max extension for Siakam, the Raptors can essentially create significant cap space by gaming the system.

Since Siakam was a No. 27 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, his cap hit as a restricted free agent would come in at a measly $7 million. If he were willing to wait a year and sign his max extension after the Raptors used up the rest of their cap space next summer, the extra time could create more than $22 million in cap space for the team. With that in mind, the Raptors are disincentivized to offer Siakam a max at this time.

Siakam and the Raptors have reportedly “engaged in preliminary talks,” but a deal between the two parties appears to be far from imminent.

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