Pascal Siakam is expected to emerge as the next franchise player for the Toronto Raptors, and Masai Ujiri can’t wait for his future with the club.
Siakam’s imminent contract extension is the next major task ahead for Ujiri, while the Raptors return much of the core from last year’s championship team, with the glaring exceptions of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Ujiri appears confident that the Raptors will get a deal done with Siakam before he’s eligible to become a restricted free agent. Both parties have until Oct. 21 to agree to a long-term deal before Siakam becomes a RFA at the end of the 2019-20 season.
“We've had conversations with Pascal's representation and we're excited whether it's going to be this fall or next summer, we're excited for the potential of what that could be,” Ujiri said during Saturday’s media day.
“He's somebody that we're going to keep for a long time.”
Siakam is eligible for a maximum five-year, $170-million extension. The burgeoning star took the league by storm in 2018-19, averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists while shooting 54.9 per cent from the field, earning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
Despite his breakout season, Ujiri believes Siakam and plenty of other Raptors have lots of room for growth.
“I think Pascal will make another jump, I think Freddy [VanVleet] is really coming and then OG [Anunoby] had a very unlucky year I think last year and he's had a very good summer,” Ujiri said.
Siakam said he’ll defer his contract talks to his agent but wants to remain with the Raptors.
The maple leaf as part of the Pascal logo >>> pic.twitter.com/kQNGd4jKcg— Vivek Jacob (@VivekMJacob) September 28, 2019
“I love Toronto. I love being here and I'm definitely hopeful we can get it done,” Siakam told TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.
Siakam also told Lewenberg that he’s not concerned about becoming the next face of the franchise.
“I really don't focus on that to be honest. I don't want to sound like I'm too humble, I just want to continue to get better and I think basketball will speak for it. If I go out there and ball out then we can talk about it later,” Siakam said.
In the absence of Leonard, Siakam is widely expected to emerge as the team’s top scoring option, while the Raptors make a competitive push in trying to defend their title. Siakam will be the catalyst this season, and it appears certain he’ll be handsomely rewarded by Ujiri in due time.
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