It is no coincidence that the season following their trade for Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors are suddenly competing for a title. When Masai Ujiri gave up fan favorite star DeMar DeRozan in the deal, it was a risky move, to say the least.
He gave up a lot for a one-year rental, and now they have to hope their success is enough to convince Leonard to stay.
In hindsight, things could have been a whole lot worse. According to reports on The Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective Podcast, the Raptors refused to trade Pascal Siakam in the original deal for Kawhi last summer, a decision that has already paid off.
The Spurs acquired DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first round pick for Leonard and Danny Green. The Raptors reportedly refused to include Siakam and OG Anunoby in trade talks for Leonard.
“My understanding is they would not trade him,” said Tim Bontemps on The Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast.
“No, he was not (available). I don’t think so either,” said Jackie MacMullan.
Siakam has been vital to Toronto’s postseason success. He is averaging over 19 points per game and 7 rebounds on 47% shooting these playoffs and has been a steady contributor alongside Kawhi.
He is important in giving The Klaw some help and he is will be the key to their future if Kawhi leaves. At just 25-years-old, Siakam has yet to reach his prime.
So, in what turned out to be a rewarding risk for the Raptors, their decision to not trade Siakam in the trade (or any other trade) is yet another step that will pay off in the weeks and years ahead.