Morning Coffee – Tue, Jul 11

The smoke around Siakam is heating up

NBA Trade Market: Make it a party of three – Marc Stein

The Indiana Pacers have emerged as a legitimate trade partner with the Toronto Raptors for Pascal Siakam, sources tell Marc Stein of Substack.

Siakam is entering the final season of his contract and reports of his potential availability have increased.

The Atlanta Hawks have also logged interest in Siakam, while other teams could also emerge.

Siakam has signaled a preference to remain with the Raptors, but the departure of Fred VanVleet is believed to have led the team to prefer giving more runway to Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby.

“The Raptors are indeed far more prepared to surrender Siakam than initially realized,” writes Stein.

NBA Trade Rumors: Pascal Siakam Eyed by Pacers; Raptors Won’t Return Calls on Anunoby | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

It’s not surprising that Toronto is intent on holding on to Anunoby. The 25-year-old has been coveted by teams around the league for quite some time, but the Raptors have resisted trading him away. He was named to the All-Defensive second team after leading the league with 1.9 steals per game while also averaging 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Grange noted that the Raptors “don’t intend to drag the process out for weeks or months, but they don’t seem ready to close the door on a Siakam trade just yet.” While dealing away their best player might be detrimental to their chances at being competitive next year, “they still remain committed to avoiding a total rebuild.”

Siakam is eligible for a contract extension worth up to $192 million over four years this offseason. Despite coming off a season in which he averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists, he and the team “have yet to discuss a contract extension,” per Grange.

While he remains the subject of trade discussions, Siakam “has made it clear his preference is to stay in Toronto,” Grange stated. The two-time All-Star has spent his entire seven-year career with the franchise.

So here’s what you missed from the Toronto Raptors… – Raptors HQ

After the dust settled post-VanVleet signing, many wondered what direction the Raptors would be going in with the rest of their roster. Obviously their plan was to re-sign both Fred VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl, and make an attempt of running it back. So with Fred gone, where did that leave them?

There have been (and still are as I write this on July 7) many rumours surrounding Siakam’s future. The two-time All-Star is playing the best basketball of his life, and the price is high. He is soon up for a contract extension, but there is question as to whether or not he wants to STAY and play for the Toronto Raptors.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet recently reported that both Siakam and Fred VanVleet had become “frustrated” with the younger Raptors players over the last season. Both VanVleet and Siakam, despite not even being 30 yet, were some of the oldest players on the roster last season — they were undoubtedly the leaders of that team. Could those frustrations with some of the newer, younger teammates be enough to drive Siakam somewhere else?

Things got even MORE interesting when Damian Lillard requested a trade out of Portland this week. The superstar has lost faith in the Trail Blazers being able to build a contending team, and has his sights set on being traded to Miami. There is speculation on whether or not the Trail Blazers will cooperate fully with him and his wishes to play for the Heat — it’s been reported that they are taking calls from just about anyone in regards to Lillard’s future.

Do the Raptors have any chance in that fight? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem like bringing Dame here, only to give away Siakam is a good way to build a contending team. Lillard AND Siakam? That’s a winning team.

Siakam had also been reported to be a target for the Atlanta Hawks, but the chances of that went down this week when Dejounte Murray agreed to an extension.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to see what Siakam’s future with the Raptors looks like.

Why Raptors Summer League is all about Gradey Dick | The Star

It got the masses chattering about what kind of young man he is, and that if there was a desire for a fresh, fun attitude around a team that had somehow turned stale, Dick was going to provide it.

But there was another, far more important side of the coin and that has been on display here through four days and two games of the NBA Summer League.

Dick is doing what the Raptors need him to do: show his basketball chops and relegate the social media hijinks to the back burner.

“He’s got an all-around game,” said Pat Delany, the assistant coach now in charge of Toronto’s Summer League team. “I know he came in as a shooter — that’s what he does, it’s a strength of his. But I also think, too, that there’s other things he does offensively: the passing, the cutting, the moving without the ball.

“We all, as a group collectively, want to fast-track that process so when it gets to September and camp it’ll be ahead of the curve for him.”

Make no mistake, this two-week Raptors run in Vegas is primarily about force-feeding the 19-year-old first-round draft pick a healthy dose of responsibility.

Sure, Markquis Nowell has a two-way deal and Ron Harper Jr. is mulling over another one with the Raptors, and they might develop into something. But the rest? It’s unlikely any will be in training camp in September, and Nowell and Harper are bit pieces in comparison to Dick.

This is his debut, and that’s what the brass is watching. They want to see how he moves without the ball, how he reads defences, how he guards, how he competes against competition that isn’t NBA level, but is one step above the collegians Dick faced in the NCAA.

“I want to take the challenge head-on,” he said after Toronto dropped its second straight Summer League game Sunday. “I’m glad I have responsibilities like that coming in as the new guy. Like I keep saying: I’m going to do what’s best for the team and if coach needs me to do something, I’m going to do everything in my power to do that.”

One thing that’s become apparent here is that Dick is more than prepared to show his overall basketball skills. He’s studious and puts in all the requisite work — and then some.

What to expect from NBA’s new tournament, how it affects the Raptors | Toronto Sun

You might be surprised to find out it’s mostly all about money, as in getting more buzz around the NBA’s product — more eyeballs, more advertising, etc. The long season has gotten a bit dull, especially with so many star players missing so many games due to legitimate injuries or the dreaded load management. The February blahs are a thing and they even come earlier than that. Once the hype of the opening couple of weeks wears off, many fans simply stop paying attention to the NBA until the Christmas slate of marquee matchups. This was a chance to do something about that and add a bit more intrigue by borrowing from the world’s most popular sport, soccer. It will take place in November and December.

The NBA’s playoff play-in has been a success so far with more teams battling to the bitter end of the regular season, much like adding the wild card and more playoff teams in baseball has increased interest within the fan base (though Raptors fans might not yet be fond of the play-in following this year’s brutal loss to the Chicago Bulls).