Now, he wants to get paid like one.
Raptors’ rising star Pascal Siakam is seeking a maximum contract extension in discussions with the Raptors, league sources said; otherwise preparing for a 2020 free agency market that would have the restricted free agent as a top player available.
Of course, Siakam wants a max contract (which projects to be worth $168 million over five years). But would he really opt for restricted free agency if he doesn’t get one? Is there no room for salary compromise?
Toronto is disincentivized to give Siakam the max now.
If extended, Siakam will count next offseason at his starting salary on the extension. That projects to be $29 million on a max deal. But without an extension, the Raptors could count Siakam at just $7,055,516 against the cap, use their cap space then exceed the cap to re-sign him to any amount up to the max. That’s an extra $22 million of spending power!
With Kawhi Leonard gone, Siakam will likely assume a larger role this season. He could really boost his stock. But he obviously still can’t get more than the max. Why rush to pay him as much as possible without first seeing how he handles his new situation?
Maybe there’s value in Toronto showing its faith in him. Siakam could be the new franchise player there with Leonard gone and Kyle Lowry aging.
The Raptors also project to have about $80 million in cap room with an unextended Siakam next summer. That could be more space than they know what to do with. Cutting $22 million from that might not make an appreciable difference.
If he becomes a restricted free agent, Siakam would likely draw max offer sheets (which project to be worth about $125 million over four years) in a weak free-agent class. Toronto could always match, but an offer sheet would bring less team control – maybe even a few years less.
Even within a “max extension,” there’s room for haggling on things like options, guarantees and super-max criteria. Perhaps, the Raptors get enough concessions to justify signing him now. Maybe they don’t care and offer him ideal terms, anyway.
It seems highly likely Siakam will be in Toronto for the long haul. By the Oct. 21 deadline, we’ll know whether that’s through an extension.