Siakam, Barnes ignoring trade deadline speculation

TORONTO – After seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Pascal Siakam is over trade deadline speculation.

“At the end of the day, we know what it is. What’s the point of us coming here and talking every (expletive) — ah, sorry — every deadline?” Siakam said laughing as he caught himself swearing in front of several cameras.

“Every deadline, we know (questions) are going to happen. It is what it is and whatever happens happens. I’m at a point in my career where it really doesn’t matter.”

Siakam may not follow the latest trade rumours, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, with many swirling around the Raptors ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Toronto sits 11th in the Eastern Conference standings — just outside the final play-in spot — heading into Wednesday night’s game against the lowly San Antonio Spurs.

That puts the team in an ideal position to be sellers, getting draft picks or players with long-term upside in return.

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“I think this is always a big week for the franchise, as is, I think, draft night, as is final cuts at training camp,” said head coach Nick Nurse. “I think any time there’s a window whether it’s large or small to improve your team in any way, I think that’s always important for the franchise.”

Siakam, guard Fred VanVleet, and forward O.G. Anunoby all have potential trade value for a team looking to build a contender. All three have post-season experience, with Siakam and VanVleet key parts of the Raptors’ championship run in 2019.

Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr., who has a 44.7 per cent field goal percentage and a 37.3 per cent three-point percentage this season, could also be targeted by a team looking for help off the bench.

VanVleet and Trent have player options for next season, while Siakam is signed through 2023-24. Anunoby has a player option in 2024-25.

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“I think they know exactly where we stand on everything from a coaching staff perspective,” said Nurse when asked if Toronto’s front office has consulted him on potential deals.

“Obviously, there’s more conversation as things happen that are more real.”

Power forward Scottie Barnes, who was named the NBA rookie of the year last season, said that like Siakam he isn’t concerned about trade rumours. He didn’t even follow them when he was a fan watching the league.

“I haven’t really been paying attention to it,” he said. “I don’t really feel anything. As a team, as a group, I don’t really hear anything coming from it.”

Siakam said he’s learned to not worry about things he can’t control.

“I’m doing my job every single day,” he said on the court of the Raptors practice facility. “I’m blessed to be to be able to live my dream and play the game that I love and getting compensated for it.

“It’s a business and I get it. I’ve seen people go, I’ve seen people get traded here, so nothing surprises me. I don’t look for anything until, you know, my phone actually rings.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.

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