Just two years after their first-ever Championship victory, the Toronto Raptors are facing a hard new reality.
Without Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol (who are all wearing different jerseys now), the Raptors have become a shell of their former selves -- and are on a 9-game losing streak that has them sitting 11th in the lowly Eastern Conference
Earlier this week, however, tensions reached an All-Time high between Pascal Siakam and team head coach Nick Nurse, who decided to bench his star during the closing minutes in favor of a defensive-oriented lineup. After the game, that saw Toronto lose y double-digits, Siakam blasted Nurse in the locker room, with reports describing the situation as "intense" and "personal."
There is no disputing that Pascal Siakam went off on head coach Nick Nurse on Sunday night in the cramped visitors dressing room at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in the moments after what was then their eighth straight loss, this one to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors mounted a fourth-quarter comeback from down 22 after Nurse went to a defense-heavy lineup featuring Pat McCaw and Stanley Johnson but Siakam wasn’t part of it.
He remained on the bench for the entire quarter, even when Toronto pulled within six with six minutes left. The Raptors scored just 12 points from there and lost by 11.
Siakam wasn’t happy and — according to multiple sources — let Nurse know about it, loudly and aggressively with words beyond standard cursing. It got personal, lines were crossed and teammates had to intervene, according to multiple sources.
Siakam, 26, is widely considered the future of the franchise, especially in the wake of his first All-Star appearance in 2020.
This season, however, he has taken several steps back in his development as a player -- averaging just 19.8 points per game (down from 22.9) and 7.3 rebounds on 29% shooting from three (down from 35%).
As an outsider looking in, it certainly seems like confidence in Siakam as a closer and leader is fading.
And while Siakam has every right to express his grievances to his coach, getting personal is never a good direction to go.