Raptors’ Pascal Siakam fuels speculation about potential Hawks trade

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

While the Atlanta Hawks’ front office hasn’t made any significant moves this offseason other than trading away power forward John Collins and drafting guard Kobe Bufkin, there has still been no shortage of speculation surrounding the franchise and whether or not they will make a big swing before the 2023-24 season.

The most recent rumors have primarily centered around Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who has been with the Raptors for several years now and played a pivotal role in their 2019 NBA championship run.

Siakam dumped a bit of fuel onto the fire when it was discovered that he followed Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young on Instagram Wednesday.

This came after it was revealed that Young had followed Siakam last week.

What could this mean for the Atlanta Hawks?

Players following or unfollowing each other on social media may seem like an eye-roll of a source for speculation, and it very well could be.

This is the NBA offseason after all, and players have a well-documented history of pulling stunts like this just to toy with fans and add some excitement to what is the most boring stretch of the sports calendar.

But it could also signify that something’s brewing between the two teams, which would add validity to the rumors that have already been swirling.

So what would it take for Atlanta to snag the former All-Star from Toronto?

Probably a lot. To start, Atlanta would have to figure out some way to match the $37-plus million that Siakam will be owed in 2023-24, which would likely mean parting ways with either Clint Capela or De’Andre Hunter just to fulfill that aspect of the deal.

However, for Toronto to part with its best player, it would probably want a lot more, including at least one and perhaps two of Atlanta’s young core in AJ Griffin, Jalen Johnson, and Onyeka Okongwu.

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All three of these players are still on their rookie contracts and have all shown flashes of lofty potential, even if they haven’t been able to put the pieces together quite yet.

Of the three, Johnson probably has the highest theoretical ceiling due to his otherwordly athleticism combined with his massive frame that could potentially make him a nightmare for opposing defenses in transition. The Duke product also boasts an impressive passing ability for someone as young as he is, although his outside jumper still needs a lot of work.

Griffin impressed throughout much of his rookie season and, although his numbers started to dip as he appeared to hit the infamous rookie wall, he still figures to be part of the long-term equation in Atlanta due to his shooting ability.

And then there’s Okongwu, who has backed up Clint Capela for three years now and has shown steady improvement, although whether or not an All-Star-level ceiling is on his horizon is definitely still a question.

As for Siakam, the Swiss Army Knife of a power forward would immediately become Atlanta’s most switchable defender as well as providing Young and running mate Dejounte Murray with a versatile offensive weapon who can score from multiple levels and create his own shot.

Whether or not Siakam would make the Hawks a true championship contender is a different question, but he would certainly steer the team in the right direction and help get them out of the cluster of eastern conference mediocrity that has defined them ever since their magical 2021 postseason run.

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Maybe this recent Instagram detective work will end up resulting in nothing. But for the time being, Hawks fans can hope that the front office is actually making strides to improve this heavily flawed roster. What a concept!