When Kawhi Leonard left, Pascal Siakam‘s role with the Raptors grew, and it continued to take a step up last season. With that increased role past couple of years Siakam’s efficiency has slid, too.
That’s not a big surprise — the more shots, the more offensive responsibility, the harder it is to stay efficient — but Siakam told Sopan Deb of the New York Times in a Q&A it was more than just that, it was a lack of communication about his role. About Siakam being “the guy” for the Raptors.
Siakam: For me at that point when I started becoming that person, I just felt like there wasn’t that much level of communication, to be honest. And that was the only thing really that I felt. It was like, “We got you the max contract, but are you the guy?” I think that’s something that I was struggling with.
NYT: You wanted them to say, “You know, here’s the max contract. You’re the guy. You’re the centerpiece that’s going to take us to the repeat championship.”
Siakam: Yeah. I never really felt like there was that. And I think those conversations are happening now.
Maybe Masai Ujiri or coach Nick Nurse should have been more direct with Siakam, but it was also pretty evident what role the Raptors had in mind for him.
A lot of things just felt off for the Raptors last season, having to play a year in Tampa Bay due to the pandemic — Ujiri said it set them back “years” — and the team being hit hard with the disease. It threw everything into a spin cycle, including Siakam. Plus, Siakam had a rough battle with COVID (he lost 20 pounds) and then late in the season injured his shoulder, which required surgery.
All of that led to trade rumors this offseason, but Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar told NBC Sports Siakam did not want to be traded. What Siakam wants is to be healthy and step into that bigger role for the Raptors.
It sounds like the Raptors are being clear with him about what they want. Once he’s fully healthy — he likely will miss the start of the season — he will try to fill that role. And get the Raptors back to the postseason.