Following the departure of Kawhi Leonard in 2019, the Raptors looked to young swingman Pascal Siakam as their future. As a solid, two-way star who wasn't afraid of the big moment, he was an ideal candidate to take over the franchise.
Two years later, and the Raptors have inched closer to a rebuild more than anything else.
With Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell gone, the Raptors don't have high expectations for the season to come, and Siakam has been the subject of countless trade rumors over the past few weeks and months.
As he prepares to enter the new season, Siakam sat down with Sopan Deb of The New York Times to discuss this past summer and all the rumors that have been swirling overhead.
“It didn’t bother me really, because I never really heard anything from the Raptors. Even all the news I was seeing it was never like: ‘Oh. The Raptors wanted to give up Siakam for this,'” he said. “It was always like, ‘The Warriors like Pascal,’ or it was always, ‘The Kings like Pascal,’ or this. There was never nothing where it was like, ‘The Raptors wanted to give away Pascal.'”
It sounds like there is no animosity at all from Siakam, which is obviously a good sign if the franchise hopes to retain him long-term.
As for the upcoming season, he seems focused and ready for the challenge. He also issued a warning that he's about to unleash a whole new level of his game.
“I feel like when the season was ending, I was catching a rhythm, finally feeling good. ‘Man, I just had Covid. Lost 20 pounds.’ These are things that I was going through, and I feel like I’ve always gotten better in my eyes. And I think there’s another level that I can definitely get to. And for me, I definitely see myself as an All-Star. Potentially, wanting to be a most valuable player in the league one day. But for me, I do think that there’s definitely a lot more to unleash into my dream that’s going to take me to the next level.”
Without much of the players that made them so good in the past, it's unlikely that the Raptors solidify a playoff spot this upcoming season.
But if Siakam can prove himself to be a top-tier star in this league, it will go a long way in putting Toronto back on the map of the NBA world.