“Atlanta is the team mentioned most often,” began ESPN’s Zach Lowe on ‘The Lowe Post’ podcast on July 11. “Indiana has been mentioned with them…if Miami can’t get Dame, would they end up going after Siakam with a similar package…I don’t know what’s going to happen here but this seems to be a ‘so-much-smoke-there’s-gotta-be-fire’ situation here.”
Atlanta’s rumored pursuit of Siakam dates back to at least the trade deadline and has included several turns along the way. We have heard of new teams potentially entering the fray to a report that Siakam wouldn’t be interested in re-signing with the Hawks.
Miami has yet to turn its attention away from the Portland Trail Blazers star, Lillard.
But Marc Stein of The Stein Line (subscription required) reported on the Pacers’ potential interest on July 10, just as the trade chatter around Siakam had died down.
However, Lowe adds that it might not be as much of a two-team race as it may seem.
“If he doesn’t want to be in Indiana, he’s an expiring contract. That’s also part of it,” Lowe continued. “I don’t know that he does or doesn’t. I just keep hearing ‘Atlanta, Atlanta, Atlanta’ which makes me think he’s not amenable to being in Indiana.”
Siakam, 29, averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists this past season. The 6-foot-9 former NBA champion is heading into the final year of his four-year, $136.9 million contract.
Atlanta is said to have tried multiple iterations of packages to acquire Siakam, including a potential three-team deal. To this point, most of their moves have been to clear space under the luxury tax but have also given them some flexibility to add a salary without having to get close to the second apron.
A bidding war for Siakam would help drive the price in Toronto’s favor. And Indiana has drafted and traded for power forwards this offseason.
“I don’t think the Pacers’ interest level is quite where it’s reported to be,” Lowe concluded.
De’Andre Hunter ‘Has to’ be in potential Hawks trade for Raptors’ Siakam
“[De’Andre] Hunter has got to be in any iteration of this deal. Just his $20 million salary is necessary. I think he’s a piece that Atlanta, facing a money crunch going forward, would not be totally averse to getting off that contract.”
Hunter, 25, starts a four-year, $90 million contract in 2023-24. Of course, he got that contract while former team president Travis Schlenk was still running the show. There have been plenty of murmurs about his availability since then under new general manager Landry Fields including rumored talks with the Pacers and Detroit Pistons before the draft.
The 6-foot-8 former No. 4 overall pick (2018), Hunter, averaged 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists this past season while shooting 35% from beyond the arc.
He averaged 16.7 points while knocking down 36.8% from deep in the postseason.
“He’s a good player,” Lowe said. “He just hasn’t been healthy enough, and his shooting has gone wildly up and down. Defensively, he hasn’t quite been what he was cracked up to be. But he’s young, I think he’ll be a good defensive player.”
Lowe’s guest, ESPN NBA draft analyst Kevin Pelton, noted that Saddiq Bey likely has to be involved for salary-matching purposes, though the Hawks may want to keep him. They also limited their options in the near term with Bogdan Bogdanovic’s four-year, $68 million extension signed in March that keeps him from being traded until March.
Things may have slowed on the surface. But there is still much to be sorted out on all sides, including whether Siakam would actually turn down a max contract offer from a new team if traded.