The Indiana Pacers trading for Pascal Siakam feels a little like the Minnesota Timberwolves trading for Rudy Gobert. Hear me out: Two small franchises, both emboldened by the emergence of a young superstar, both a little drunk on the possibility of becoming bona fide postseason players perhaps overnight, taking a high-risk gamble against a big name Veteran whose best years may or may not be behind him.
In a vacuum, both of them probably paid too much for it. Minnesota essentially pawned off vital organs to get Gobert. Indiana didn't give up that much for Siakam (although three first-round picks isn't exactly a bargain), but the biggest cost will come with the max contract they'll likely have to give him this summer.
Siakam is not a top player and is likely a declining asset. He will be well into his 30s by the end of the contract he signs next.
But in the context of a flyover franchise with limited appeal as a well-known destination (even in the case of Indiana, where maximum space could have been available), overpayments are often the cost of doing business. Gobert is 31 years old and had a guaranteed contract worth $170 million when the Wolves signed him.
For now, it looks like Minnesota's gamble has paid off. The Wolves, who only made the playoffs twice in the 18 years before the Gobert transfer, look like real title contenders, especially if they can add some shooting power before the deadline.
The Pacers, on the other hand, haven't gotten past the first round since the days of Paul George. Tyrese Haliburton, like Anthony Edwards in Minnesota, has become so good so quickly that the fear of missing even one opportunity to compete outweighs the fear of a compromised future.
The future could be now, after all. Nobody puts Indiana at the top of the title discussion after this trade, but nobody had Minnesota as a contender after the Gobert deal either. Maybe the Pacers are closer than we think. Not every team is the Lakers or Warriors. For some teams, the goal is simply to be really good and you cross your fingers from there. The truth is that everyone is keeping their fingers crossed these days.
Think about it: outside of Boston, the East is wide open. The Pacers have the best offense in history. They beat the Bucks four times, the Celtics twice and tied the 76ers. And now they're adding a second All-Star player, and it's one that fits.
The Pacers play at a breakneck pace and Siakam is a gazelle on the open floor. The Pacers drive and kick as much as any other team, and Siakam, who is a more respected and capable shooter than his 32 percent mark suggests, enjoys closeouts. He will live in the paint amid Indiana's wide spacing. Indiana has good scoring balance under Haliburton, but no one who qualifies as a true No. 2 option. Siakam is exactly that, averaging 22 points per game. He's no longer the defender he once was, but he provides the wing length that Indiana largely lacks. This is truly a perfect marriage.
It will be difficult next season or in a few years if the Pacers make a deal with Siakam and things don't really get any better. The Hawks can tell you about this special purgatory. They tried to shorten their schedule by trading the farm for Dejounte Murray – only to find themselves in the play-in tournament forever. It looks like they will sell him for 50 cents on the dollar at the February 8 trade deadline or later this summer.
That could be the case for the Pacers. Or maybe Siakam will strike, if not later this season, then in the near future, like Gobert did in his second season in Minnesota. Maybe the Pacers aren't even done making the deal yet. It is likely that this is not actually the case. They still have a 2026 and 2028 pick to trade. Obi Toppin and/or Jalen Smith could dangle. Buddy Hield, whose contract is expiring, should have been traded a long time ago. Almost any team would take a call about Bennedict Mathurin.
In fact, a consolidation package can be put together for a third wheel. A two-way wing would be the highest item on their priority list. How about the aforementioned Murray? Indiana has the two first-round picks that Atlanta reportedly covets. Murray would be a third-class shot artist.
Jerami Grant would be even better. He is a 41% 3-point shooter and together he and Siakam would give Indiana the size on the wing to at least compete defensively in the playoffs. He's making a lot of money, and Indiana is already thinking about getting a near-max contract for Siakam and a potential super-max contract for Haliburton should he make it to the NBA, which is pretty likely.
Would you like to pay a little less? How about Dorian Finney-Smith? Or Bojan Bogdanovic? The Pacers are dangerous right now. They are not far from being much more.
But that's speculation at this point. Right now, Siakam is a huge asset for Indiana. The deal comes with a lot of risk that I haven't talked much about yet, but the potential reward justifies the reach. That doesn't mean it will work. But again, in the context of a franchise that can't rely on optimal circumstances falling into its lap, a long shot is still a shot. Good for the Pacers and Timberwolves for pulling the trigger.