Pacers finally get the forward they’ve been searching.

The Indiana Pacers finally get the forward they’ve been searching for in Pascal Siakam.

The Indiana Pacers have been on a quest to find a power forward, a wing with length that can play on both ends of the floor for years now. Yesterday, their arduous journey was finally completed with the blockbuster trade for Pascal Siakam from the Toronto Raptors for Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis, and three first-round picks.

“Everybody’s fighting to get a long wing that can defend, knockdown threes, well he can do all of that and more,” Tyrese Haliburton said of Siakam. “We got a player that every team in the NBA wants.”

This isn’t a move without risk with Siakam entering free agency this summer but all reports have indicated thus far that the Pacers are confident in their ability to re-sign him and Siakam is excited about this potentially being his long-term home alongside a budding superstar in Haliburton.

He wasn’t signaling that he was open to being with other interested teams like the Kings or the Warriors beyond this season according to multiple reports.

Team with the leverage.

That’s why the Pacers didn’t have to include any of their prime prospects like Bennedict Mathurin, Jarace Walker, or Andrew Nembhard in the deal. I must say it feels pretty good when the Pacers are the team with the leverage in a star player trade.

Even other younger players like Isaiah Jackson, Jalen Smith, Obi Toppin, and Ben Sheppard were all kept out of the trade. Instead, the Pacers do give up three first-round picks but two of them are coming this summer in what is widely thought of as a weak 2024 draft class with the picks currently sitting at 17 and 27 and the other is lightly protected (1-4) in case of catastrophe in 2026 in what the Pacers are clearly planning on being another late first-round pick.

A little melodramatic there Thanos.

The cost isn’t bad in the slightest for a two-time All Star, All-NBA wing still in his prime. While Brown was a valuable role player, a swiss-army knife on the floor, he’s the only player the Pacers lose from their rotation in the deal and many of his things he brought to the table can be filled adequately if not better by Nembhard.

With the Athletic’s John Hollinger reporting it was an open secret in league circles that Brown was “unhappy” in Indiana and him having a team option for this next season, he may not have been in Indiana beyond 2024 anyway.

They would have had to decline.

While there were reports that the Pacers could have had max cap space to sign Siakam this summer, they would have had to decline Brown’s team option, renounce Buddy Hield and Obi Toppin, and waive T.J. McConnell. That’s just to make the cap space without knowing if Siakam would sign. So, the price of keeping some of those veterans on the roster and getting Siakam in the building for the remainder of this season is what should be three low-value first-round picks.

The Pacers will have to back up the Brinks truck this summer to keep him long term. But because they now have his Bird Rights, they can sign him to a large contract while being over the salary cap while still being able to re-sign Hield and/or Toppin and keep McConnell on his partially guaranteed deal if they choose to do so.

There is some risk putting that much money on the books for 4-5 years for a player about to turn 30 that carried a heavy workload in his time with Toronto but this is a worthwhile risk. It doesn’t leave the cupboard bare for the Pacers to make additional moves to upgrade the team and Siakam immediately makes this team better at many things they were lacking.

“It’s no secret that forwards kind of had a feeding frenzy against us–him included,” Haliburton said after shootaround on Thursday.

Betting the overs.

It’s been a nightly occurrence for years now. When the Pacers are facing a big wing, they’re going to have a huge game. I’m sure someone out there has made a lot of money betting the overs on those type of players against the Pacers defense. They simply didn’t have anybody tall enough or long enough to even be serviceable on most nights.

I love Aaron Nesmith and he’s made numerous plays defending up a position but despite all his effort the fact that he’s only 6’5” makes all those matchups that much more difficult.

The fact that the Pacers should not be forced to resort to Buddy Hield or Andrew Nembhard guarding guys like Lauri Markkanen like what happened on Monday night against the Jazz is a reason to celebrate the Siakam trade by itself.

Provide an upgrade.

While Siakam’s reputation probably exceeds his performance on that end the last couple years, he just needs to be adequate to provide an upgrade. With him defending fours, this also moves everyone else to a spot that should make more sense for them as well in the lineup.

Nesmith can guard the best offensive option at the two or three, Nembhard providing coverage at the point of attack, and Haliburton sneaking into passing lanes while guarding the least capable scorer on the opposing offense.

There’s a clear path now to a defense that doesn’t completely stink. There’s still issues and lesser defenders on the roster but Siakam gives them a possible answer at the spot where they really had none in a whole lot of matchups. And with how good the offense already was before Siakam, they don’t need to be amazing defensively to make some noise in the postseason.

On offense, Siakam is going to experience more space than he’s ever had playing in Indiana.

Siakam the first time he spins into the lane with the Pacers with their spacing.

Master at maneuvering.

Siakam is a master at maneuvering in tight windows and poor spacing after spending his whole career in Toronto. Even with a general lack of shooting and a crowded interior with Jakob Poeltl crowding the paint, Siakam made 58% of his 2-point attempts this season with a diet of post-ups, transition opportunities, and drives into the lane.

His 1.05 points per possession on 2.7 post-ups per game ranks 17th in the league among all NBA players that have at least one possession in the post per game and with Myles Turner spacing the floor along with sharpshooters like Haliburton, Hield, and Nesmith the lane should be free of the extra bodies that he would often see with the Raptors.

Those post-ups may see a boost in efficiency and should give the Pacers another option in crunch time when things are getting tight. Siakam is a good playmaker for others when doubled or when help arrives. He averaged 4.9 assists per game with the Raptors this season.

While his 3-point percentage is down overall (31.7%) this year after a really rough start from outside, he’s shooting 46.5% on corner 3s for the entire season and over his last 19 games, he’s shooting 46.9% from 3 overall.

While the Pacers will need him to willingly take those shots and he’s unlikely to maintain that percentage over the back half of the year, he’s capable of making teams pay when he’s open, especially from the corners.

Trapping Haliburton.

He’ll also make it harder for teams to completely sell out on trapping Haliburton and forcing the ball out of his hands.

Siakam should instantly become the team’s best playmaker in any of those 4-on-3 situations that occur when he slips a screen as the opposing defense blitzes Haliburton to get the ball out of his hands.

Siakam will have the option from there to spray it out to shooters along the wing or attack the tilted defense in an effort to get to the rim.

He loves to get out in transition and run which is an obvious fit with the Pacers. We should see plenty of hit ahead passes from Haliburton to find Siakam early in the shot clock to attack quickly before the defense can get set. Siakam is one of the league’s best finishers in transition scoring 1.31 points per possession and making 67% of his attempts on these plays.

Haliburton’s going to get Siakam more easy looks than he’s ever had before because that’s just what he does for everyone.

Joining a new team for the first time.

There will be an adjustment period as Siakam joins a new team for the first time in his career and the Pacers adapt to adding a player that has a usage rate at 24.8%. While it may dip some with him being the clear second option to Haliburton, that’s still a big difference from the 16% usage rate of Brown, who he replaces in the starting lineup.

It’s a large disruption to the offensive ecosystem. Guys like Myles Turner and Bennedict Mathurin (22% usage rates currently) may not get as many touches as they did before the trade while sharing the floor with both Haliburton and Siakam. It’ll likely take time for the Pacers free-flowing offensive style to settle into its rhythms and new roles.

This is the type of move the Pacers have never really made.

They have a tremendous history in the past at making trades for younger players and giving them the opportunity to thrive and developing them into studs. But making a deal for a guy that’s already made two All-Star teams and already has made a couple All-NBA teams in his career? This is new territory.

The Pacers are going all in because they believe they have the superstar in place in Tyrese Haliburton. That potential top-5 player in the league that can lead you to the mountaintop and they need to surround him with the right pieces, the right complimentary star.

They don’t believe they need to wait, Haliburton’s ready to win now. This move isn’t without risk, is Siakam the right second option? I can’t wait to find out.

“This ain’t a good trade for the Pacers, it’s a great trade.” Chuck’s reaction to Indiana’s trade for Pascal Siakam.

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