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Rumor Roundup: Could the Hawks really bring Pascal Siakam down south?

Atlanta Hawks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

At this point, it’s almost impossible to not pick up on the noise circulating about Atlanta’s involvement in the NBA trade market. In the lead up to free agency, the Hawks seemed to make almost every starter from last year’s team available for the right price. And shortly before free agency even tipped off, the Hawks went forward in moving John Collins to the Utah Jazz essentially for spare parts.

Clearly everyone was on notice by the time free agency even began in earnest. With financial flexibility motivations at play, the Hawks had one more contract looming on the horizon slated to tie up even more of their wage bill than Collins’ deal for years to come.

After initially signaling the possibility of parting with Dejounte Murray in advance of him hitting unrestricted free agency in 2024, Murray and the Hawks agreed on a four-year extension with a maximum total value of around $120.5 million starting in 2024-25. The deal looks on the surface to be a major win — a below market deal for a franchise building block.

But the Hawks weren’t done wheeling and dealing yet, including a couple more minor moves that resulted in bringing in Patty Mills.

Still, the main target that has bubbled to the rumor mill surface involves two-time All-Star Pascal Siakam, who the Raptors may be trying to move with one year left on his contract. Atlanta has been often mentioned as a landing spot, according to numerous national reporters with more intimate knowledge of the talks.

The most recent report from NBA insider Marc Stein’s Substack has details:

You can safely presume that the Dallas Mavericks are rooting for Atlanta to win the trade race for Toronto’s Siakam ... and that they’re also hoping such a trade features Hawks center Clint Capela as opposed to a strictly De’Andre Hunter-centric deal.

Capela has two seasons left on his current contract valued at nearly $43 million. The Raptors would appear to have little need for a pricey center after re-signing Jakob Poeltl this month to a four-year deal worth $78 million, so a theoretical trade of Siakam to the Hawks that features Capela would open the door for Dallas to join the trade as a third team or pursue a separate deal with Toronto for Capela.

The Mavericks tried to acquire Capela in trade talks connected to the draft in June but couldn’t come to terms with the Hawks, balking when Atlanta asked for Josh Green in addition to the No. 10 pick in the draft. (The Mavericks, by the way, are expected to soon open contract extension talks with Green after it was agreed they would begin later in free agency.)

The larger question with Atlanta, given what is perceived leaguewide as its increasing willingness to trade Capela, is how aggressive the Hawks are willing to be with their Siakam offers. The All-Star forward has continued to signal an unwillingness to sign an extension with any team that trades for him.

Siakam has one year left on his contract at nearly $38 million and has made it clear that he prefers to stay with the team that drafted him No. 27 overall in 2016. Which could make surrendering too many trade assets risky.

There is an inherent skepticism around the league when it comes to the Raptors and their willingness to trade Siakam or any other front-line player after last February’s trade deadline, when Toronto entertained various proposals involving multiple Raptors and wound up trading none of them. You’ll surely recall that the Raptors actually added to the team’s core instead by trading for Poeltl.

I nonetheless came away from my time at summer league in Las Vegas with the distinct impression that the Raptors are still exploring another move. Maybe even two.

This week’s emergence of Indiana as a potential Siakam suitor was followed by murmurs of Orlando interest, too, via my Sportsnet colleague Michael Grange.

In an unrelated but undeniably interesting sidebar: I’m told Orlando has been Siakam’s preferred offseason training base for years.

To recap: a multi-team deal seems to be the prevailing structure that it would take for Siakam to be brought into Atlanta — reportedly as of late of course. The same reports often mention Dallas having some level of desire toward bringing in center Clint Capela to solidify their rebuilt core of big men.

On the #thisleague podcast hosted by Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report, the two insiders dish on news and reports from around the league. On an episode posted on July 7th after the Dejounte Murray extension news broke, the duo talked about the Hawks’ chase of Siakam:

Haynes: We’ve been hearing how the Atlanta Hawks have been really trying to get in on the Pascal Siakam sweepstakes. We kind of touched on that on previous pods before. Pascal would like to stay in Toronto. I believe he has one year left on his deal, so that’s going into that territory — a similar situation Kawhi Leonard went through. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but Dejounte [Murray], that’s a really good deal for him. I just don’t know if his future is still there. That is the unknown. Is there anything that you’ve heard, Stein?

Stein: The first question was ‘could Dejounte get enough money in an extension that would make him want to sign now?’ Because there was a school of thought that said ‘you know what, don’t be surprised if he opts to wait until unrestricted free agency next summer when he can make more.’ But in this new CBA, the extension rules were changed to try to give incumbent teams more of a chance to retain their guys. We keep seeing this more and more and more.

I recently did a TV essay about this for Bally Sports Southwest. And part of that essay was [that] we’re seeing so many more of these extensions. It’s just extensions, extensions, extensions. The number of top stars who make it to free agency anymore, that group just seems to get smaller and smaller. And that’s why one of the main reasons why the trade market has replaced free agency as the easiest way to really change your team and change it dramatically.

Marc Stein later goes on to talk more in depth about Siakam to Atlanta rumors, saying:

Stein: Pascal Siakam, the resistance to a trade to Atlanta has really been on his side. Precisely where the Raptors fall in terms of trading Pascal Siakam has been a lot harder to pinpoint as it often is with the Raptors. At the trade deadline, there was so much curiosity. What would the Raptors do? Would Fred VanVleet be made available for trade? Would Siakam be made available for trade? What about OG Anunoby? What about Gary Trent Jr.? There were trade discussions surrounding all those guys.

And in the end Toronto didn’t trade any of them. They end up making a trade for Jakob Poeltl. Now, fast forward a few months later. Fred VanVleet opts to go to Houston. And the questions start anew. What are the Raptors going to do? Is Pascal Siakam actually being made available by the Toronto Raptors? That’s been harder to gauge.

The most consistent rumbles there have been that that Hawks had been very interested in a trade for Siakam and that Siakam has been resistant to it. The message has been sent, whispered — and even louder than whispered — that Siakam wouldn’t really be interested in a contract extension if the Hawks were to move [for] him. And we’ll see now what impact signing Murray has on that pursuit from the Hawks on Siakam.

As of now, there is only rumor and conjecture available with the often-reported caveat that Siakam would prefer to test free agency over agreeing to a contract extension with Atlanta. But the smoke in the days leading up to the Collins trade news — as well as the Murray extension news breaking — quickly turned into fire. And the same may just happen sooner rather than later in this offseason.