Pascal Siakam was having a great season in the autumn of 2019. He had just completed his third season in the National Basketball Association and was well on his way to becoming basketball legend in Canada, having recently played a key role in the Toronto Raptors’ first championship, with Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. Siakam was given the biggest contract extension possible, elevating him to the level of stardom — at least in terms of financial reward — that is usually reserved for movie stars. He was rewarded for the Raptors’ confidence in him by being named to his first career All-Star squad the following season.
His meteoric ascent has come as a surprise to Siakam, a Cameroonian native who began playing basketball at the age of 17 and went on to play two years at New Mexico State University before being drafted by Toronto in the late first round of the 2016 NBA draught.
Now, Siakam, who is 27 years old, is being questioned about his ability to be a long-term fixture in the city of Toronto. During the previous season, he struggled. The Toronto Raptors, who had been considered one of the league’s top contenders until recently, were one of the league’s weakest teams, playing their home games in Florida due to pandemic travel restrictions. Siakam’s performance fell well short of what was expected of a star. To make things worse, Siakam developed Covid-19, which caused him to drop 20 pounds in a short period of time. Finally, in March, Siakam had a postgame spat with Coach Nick Nurse, which was a result of his disappointment at having lost the game.
While Siakam’s performance improved in the latter months of the regular season, he was sidelined by a left shoulder injury that necessitated surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season. As a result, he will most likely miss the start of the 2021-22 season.
Trade speculations have swirled around Siakam, but the Raptors’ Masai Ujiri, who oversees basketball operations, as well as Siakam’s agent, Todd Ramasar, have both openly dismissed the notion of a trade. In a phone call from Los Angeles, where he is recuperating from his injury, Siakam expressed his desire to remain in Toronto in the long term, but acknowledged that he had some issues with the organization’s front office after getting the contract extension. He also spoke about his recovery experience, his connection with the Raptors, and Lowry’s move from the Raptors to the Miami Heat.