So, it appears the Toronto Raptors are actually open for business. After hoarding their attractive trade pieces for the past couple of seasons, the Raptors decided to reset by sending OG Anunoby (along with Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn) to the New York Knicks in exchange for Immanuel Quickley, R.J. Barrett and a 2024 second-rounder.
This trade all but guarantees Toronto will move on from Pascal Siakam this year. Siakam is a 29-year old forward who will be a free agent this summer. With the two-time All-Star now presumably unwilling to sign an extension with the Raptors (reports indicate he’s unwilling to sign a short-term extension with a new team if traded), the price to swoop in and add him mid-season will be the lowest it’s ever been.
The Sixers have yet to have any reported interest in Siakam, but they are expected to be active between now and February’s deadline. It could certainly be something they explore. Philly has an expiring contract in Tobias Harris they could send back, and would likely have to attach an extra first-round pick because of Siakam’s status as a rental.
So, the Sixers should absolutely jump on the chance to rid themselves of Harris while adding a former All-Star who is familiar with Nick Nurse’s system, right?
Well, maybe not.
In a vacuum, Siakam is for sure a better basketball player than Harris. He scores more points more efficiently and continues to improve as a playmaker while having the edge on defense as well thanks to being a couple years younger and a couple inches taller.
While he’s improved as a scorer, averaging 22.8 points a game since 2019-20 with a career effective field goal percentage of 52.8%, he is still not respected as a three-point shooter.
He’s a 32.4 % shooter from deep over his career, and that number is down to 28.8% this season. That alone makes him a tough fit alongside Joel Embiid. It wasn’t just Ben Simmons who clogged Philadelphia’s offense up in the Embiid era. Every Sixer that defenses have been able to ignore has made Embiid’s life harder on offense.
In James Harden’s first year, the team was forced to insert Danny Green into the starting lineup because of Matisse Thybulle’s ineffectiveness offensively. Even when P.J. Tucker was knocking down threes in Game 7 last year in Boston, the Celtics still decided to ignore him and focus on clogging up the paint for Embiid.
The biggest problem with Harris’ current fit on the team is that he is too hesitant to launch threes and be a spacer. Siakam’s profile as an offensive player might even make less sense next to Embiid.
Only 25% of the threes Siakam has taken this year have been from the corner. He likes to typically load up above the break. To put it simply, the ideal power forward to play off Embiid is a guy who will move a lot off the ball and let it fly from the perimeter — and Siakam isn’t that.
Those are just the issues the Sixers would have to work out on the court. If they made this swing, they’d have quite the decision to make at the beginning of free agency. Siakam’s production and status as a fringe All-Star means he’ll be getting a large contract this summer. Not to mention that Siakam and Nurse might not have parted on the greatest of terms.
Do the Sixers want to shell out max-contract level money for a guy who will be the third-best player on this roster? One who’s fit with the best player on the team might not be the smoothest?
Sixers fans have reached a point where they would trade Tobias Harris for a Crumbl Cookie, so do they really want to go through a similar process all over again?