What’s the Pascal of it all?

Pascal Siakam is the type of player you build a team around. So why don't the Raptors see it that way?

Over the past four seasons, Pascal Siakam has scored the 16th-most points in the NBA, recording 5838. He has been named to the All-NBA team twice and has skyrocketed to fifth in all-time franchise scoring. Oh, and the season before that cutoff, he won a championship while being named the Most Improved Player. He is the definition of a proven player.

Why, then, when asked specifically why the Raptors have not extended Pascal Siakam, did Masai Ujiri say, "We do believe in Pascal. We believe that a lot of our players didn’t play the right way last year and we want to see them play the right way. I said that we were selfish, I’m not running away from that. We were selfish and we did not play the right way. So let us see it when we play the right way."

That is not how team leaders usually discuss proven players. Ujiri has seen Siakam play the right way -- and win a championship in the process. He could have said 'discussions are ongoing' or 'we'll chat about an extension when one is signed' or any other trick players and managers use to not answer conversations about extensions. Ujiri himself has used those lines plenty. So what, specifically, is Ujiri saying?

Ujiri first said publicly that the Raptors played selfishly in his year-ending press conference last season. It seemed somewhat shocking then. But in his season-opening press conference, he used the word several times, perhaps to the extend that it lost a little bit of its punch, if not its meaning.

Did the Raptors play selfishly? Or was the team poorly constructed? It's hard to say for sure. Both would have had the same result, which Ujiri himself recognized: "We didn't play very well as a team, but individually our players do well."

That would be the result whether the team played selfishly or if it wasn't well put together. And Ujiri ensures us that the Raptors won't be selfish any longer. Yet the construction issues -- little shooting, very little rim pressure, outrageous positional overlap -- remain. So we're about to find out what was causing Toronto's problems last year.

Which brings us back to Siakam. He surely wasn't Toronto's problem last year.

On top of leading the team in scoring, he also had by far the team's best on/off margin for its half-court offense, meaning Toronto ranked 12th in half-court offense overall (including offensive rebounds) and 30th when Siakam was off the floor. So, yeah, he was not what was wrong with the team.