As the Philadelphia 76ers have held steady with a king's ransom asking price for Ben Simmons, another versatile, All-Star forward from the Eastern Conference has reportedly drawn trade interest from the Trail Blazers.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Portland has discussed the "framework" of a CJ McCollum-Pascal Siakam trade with the Toronto Raptors. Despite that dialogue failing to advance past its early stages, there's also a strong sense among league decision-makers that Toronto's selection of playmaking forward Scottie Barnes at No. 4 in Thursday's NBA draft has increased Siakam's availability in potential trades.
There has also been an intriguing CJ McCollum-Pascal Siakam trade framework discussed between Portland and Toronto, though talks between the teams have yet to generate significant momentum, sources said. Rival executives believe the Raptors' selection of Scottie Barnes seemingly reinforces Siakam's availability for trade.
Rumors of Toronto's openness to moving Siakam first made the rounds a few weeks ago, when Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and company reportedly got in the bidding for Simmons. Veteran NBA journalist Marc Stein also noted after the draft that other teams became "immediately convinced" Toronto was planning to deal Siakam in wake of the team selecting Barnes with the fourth overall pick.
Siakam is coming off a disappointing, inefficient season with the Raptors, notable as much for his substandard performance relative to expectations as multiple bouts of internal turmoil. Siakam was suspended for one game in early January for previously going to the locker room early in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and was reportedly fined $50,000 by Toronto in March after he got into a heated shouting match with Nick Nurse following his benching during a defeat at hand of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Raptors denied fining Siakam for that incident and Nurse downplayed the severity of their dispute. But with Toronto poised for months to part ways with franchise icon Kyle Lowry and institute a soft rebuild this offseason, Siakam has long been viewed as potential trade bait.
The problem for the Raptors, like the Blazers with McCollum, is that Siakam's value has never been lower. The entire league knows where Siakam and McCollum stand with Toronto and Portland, respectively, leaving Ujiri and Neil Olshey entering trade discussions from a position of weakness.
Could a direct swap—with the Blazers likely sending future draft capital and/or a young player to the Raptors along with McCollum—sate the needs of both sides? It certainly seems that way in terms of roster composition, with Toronto looking for another backcourt playmaker next to Fred VanVleet and Portland long absent the two-way dynamism a forward like Siakam provides.
A possible holdup? The Raptors, ever confident in their ability to draw star players abroad, preferring to shed salary in a Siakam deal as opposed to taking on the three years and $100 million owed to McCollum through 2023-24.
Keep an eye on Siakam's status. Not only is he a more seamless immediate with Portland than Simmons, but it would likely take less supporting trade ammo with McCollum to pry Siakam from his incumbent team, too.