Laying out the Pascal Siakam trade
There are three major components to building a two-team trade for a star. First, does the money work? Pascal Siakam makes $37.8 million next season, and while the Pacers have a small amount of cap space still available, they can’t absorb Siakam’s contract; they need to send back matching salary for most of it.
Secondly, the team selling the star needs to get back enough value that they are incentivized to move him. The Raptors, for example, didn’t feel that they got enough back for VanVleet and elected to hold onto him; he walked anyway, leaving them with nothing, but it has to be worth their while to give up a top player.
Finally, does the “buying” team retain enough of its core pieces to compete with that player? If not, the deal isn’t worth it, as adding a star to a roster not ready to compete around him is pointless. Call this the “Carmelo Anthony corollary.”
Add all of those things up, and it will be difficult to work out a trade, even between a team in Toronto motivated to sell, and a team in Indiana motivated to buy. Yet difficult is not impossible, and this specific construction might strike the right balance with both sides:
The Raptors get some salary relief in this construction, as Indiana uses its remaining cap space to absorb the difference. They get their guy in Siakam, but don’t give up Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Myles Turner or their last two lottery picks in Bennedict Mathurin and Jarace Walker. The Raptors get matching salary — including the sharpshooting Hield, valuable to Toronto whether or not they move him on to another team — and Andrew Nembhard, who proved himself a reliable guard ready to play right now. The first-round picks complete the deal.
Does this work for both sides? Let’s take a closer look.