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The viability of the Mavericks trading for Pascal Siakam

The question isn’t if it makes sense for the Mavs to pursue Siakam, but whether they have the assets to make it work.

Toronto Raptors v Dallas Mavericks
Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors shoots against Grant Williams #3 of the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter at American Airlines Center on November 08, 2023 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Queue the Seinfeld theme song bass lick.

What’s THE DEAL with Pascal Siakam? He’s been previously linked to the Mavericks in various offseason and trade cycle rumors, hasn’t he? He would fit right into the current Dallas Mavericks roster, wouldn’t he? So why can’t Dallas have nice things? Am I right?

Well, Boutros Boutros-Golly. For those of you who, like George Costanza, always wanted to pretend to be an architect, specifically of NBA trades in this case, the month or so before the NBA trade deadline is like a continuation of the high holy Festivus season.

The NBA trade calculators that dot the internet have empowered anyone of us who gets a wild hair up his or her ass to play general manager for a few minutes and pretend like we’re the smartest person in rooms we’d never be allowed to enter. Right now, there’s not a hotter potential trade target for Mavericks fans than Siakam.

The question isn’t whether Siakam makes sense from the Mavericks’ point of view. He makes all the sense in the world as an addition — he checks all the boxes, specifically with his plus defense and rebounding ability, the Mavericks need to check to become a contender. The real questions are whether Dallas has the assets to make a deal happen and how many other teams may outbid the Mavericks.

The Toronto Raptors have assumed the posture of sellers as the trade deadline approaches, so how does that affect how much they can command in a trade for the big man? There are plenty of moving parts and other potential suitors. So let’s wade through some of the possibilities and make the case for both how it could happen, and why it won’t, while I try in vain to disguise my own position on the subject.

Siakam to the Mavericks could happen if...

Step one is all about the negotiating tactics of potential Siakam suitors. As mentioned above, Toronto is already assuming the posture of a seller. They’ve dealt O.G. Anunoby to the Knicks for R.J Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and draft considerations. So it makes sense for suitors, including the Mavericks front office to the extent they’re involved, to find the absolute bottom of what they’d have to offer to make the deal happen. What I’m saying is, it might not cost quite as much as you think it might to get it done.

Siakam is in the last year of his current four-year, $137 million deal and is going to command a max deal in the offseason. The team getting Siakam would likely want some assurance that he would re-sign with them before they sign off on the trade to bring him in for the rest of the season or to offer less in return without that assurance.

The online trade machines visualize the exercise in making the money work in a trade scenario, which is helpful, but they don’t take into account whether an opposing GM would laugh you out of the room if the trade you just cooked up was really on the table. Any potential trade for Siakam would likely have to include Tim Hardaway Jr. and Richaun Holmes to start with because their yearly cap hits (nearly $18 million and just over $12 million, respectively) do most of the work as you’re building toward matching Siakam’s yearly number.

Who else would the Mavs need to package with Hardaway and Holmes in the two-team trade scenario? It's likely some combination of Josh Green, Jaden Hardy and/or rookie Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Not Dereck Lively II. Do not even think about including Lively in your hypothetical trade machinations. We are monitoring our comment sections and will not tolerate that level of wrong-headedness.

Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons
Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket against Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Little Caesars Arena on December 30, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The trade machines also tell me that a package of Hardaway, Holmes and Grant Williams works for Siakam in return, but I don’t get the sense that’s a particularly attractive offer for Toronto. Does adding a draft pick or two sweeten the deal?

Even if you could put together the most attractive possible package given those pieces and add two second-round draft picks, what are the chances that another team can put something better together? Honestly, that question is at the very heart of the Mavs’ trade scenario conundrums. With Siakam’s pending free agency, he has a chance to force himself to a particular team by committing to re-signing with that organization. The Mavericks trade package might not be able to compete with Atlanta’s or Indiana’s, but if Siakam tells his agent he will only re-sign in Dallas? That changes things.

Why Siakam to the Mavs won’t happen

First off, there are Mavericks insiders who say that the Siakam trade hype machine is a creation of eager fans’ imaginations, far exceeding the real level of interest the front office has in putting together a trade package for the 6’8, 245-pound two-time All-Star averaging 21.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this year.

“The Dallas Mavericks have indeed registered some exploratory trade interest in Siakam, league sources say, but one source over the weekend described their interest to me as overstated,” Marc Stein reported in his latest newsletter. “The Mavericks are indeed hoping to upgrade at the four spot, I’m told, but my sense is Siakam is not atop their wish list.”

Whether that is good, useful information based on hard reporting or simply the misdirection messaging that the Dallas front office saw fit to put into the ether is the stuff that trade deadline fan debates are made of.

Another point working against the Mavericks is that some of the potential trade pieces mentioned above are in the middle of disappointing seasons, to varying degrees. The shine isn’t all the way off Green yet, but we all thought at this point in the year he’d carry a lot more trade value, or value to his current team in the context of this season than he currently does.

Williams hasn’t been the key contributor many thought he’d be for the Mavericks after fitting into his role so well in Boston for four seasons. And Jaden Hardy, ooph. He’s just 21 but has shown signs of regression from his compelling form of the last part of the 2022-23 season. The Raptors acquired Quickley from the Knicks in the Anunoby deal, which would make Hardy an underperforming redundancy, so what are we even talking about here? If these guys aren’t attractive to Toronto, all our collective hand-wringing will have been for naught.

My gut says that if Dallas isn’t willing to part with Lively, Toronto probably won’t have much interest in dealing with the Mavs.

Which brings us to perhaps the best argument against the Mavs’ chances to land Siakam this trade season. There are other potential landing spots with teams that can put together better trade packages than Dallas can. The Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers are reportedly among the potential suitors for the power forward as well.

A Siakam package from Sacramento would likely have to include Harrison Barnes, the former Maverick and Kings’ version of Tim Hardaway Jr., and his $17 million salary, along with someone like Kevin Huerter, Trey Lyles, and/or Keegan Murray. The Pacers would likely look to get something done with a package including sharp-shooter Buddy Hield, Jarace Walker, Jalen Smith and/or a first-round draft pick. The Hawks might want the trade to look something like DeAndre Hunter, Patty Mills, A.J. Griffin and a draft pick for Siakam, but Toronto may ask for breakout wing Jalen Johnson as part of the deal. It’s also possible that Dejounte Murray becomes part of a trade, as the Hawks have signaled lately that they are willing to move on from him.

Miami Heat v Utah Jazz
Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz shoots over Nikola Jovic #5 of the Miami Heat during the first half of a game at Delta Center on December 30, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

What does everyone think? Are forwards Lauri Markannenm of the Utah Jazz or P.J. Washington of the Charlotte Hornets more realistic trade targets? What about Bojan Bogdanovich from the Detroit Pistons? Feel free to sound off on how anti-Mavs and wrong I am in the comments.