‣ Toronto recently traded Pascal Siakam to Indiana in a three-team deal that also included the Pelicans, marking the end of an era for Toronto as Siakam was one of the last stars that contributed to the 2019 championship team.
‣ Team president Masai Ujiri expressed his emotions about trading out the core team that gave them their league title almost five years ago, highlighting the human aspect of the business and the difficulty of breaking personal bonds.
‣ The recent trade of Fred VanVleet during the summer was also noted as a difficult decision, emphasizing the challenges of trading players in the NBA.
welcome home, Pascal Siakam.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers)
Toronto’s recent NBA transfer market move was a shocker. They traded Pascal Siakam to Indiana in a three-team deal that also roped in the Pelicans. Bruce Brown Jr., Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis Jr., and three future first-round picks are now headed to Canada. Meanwhile, the ex-Raptor is teaming up with All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton.
This roster change signals the end of an era for Toronto. Siakam, a native of Cameroon, was one of the last stars from the 2019 championship team that bagged their first-ever title. Masai Ujiri, the team president, remembers how he transformed this unknown African prospect into an All-NBA caliber player.
Last Thursday, Ujiri met with the press. He spoke about how it felt to trade the core team that had brought them their league title nearly five years ago. The executive reminisced about his shared journey with Siakam. “Two African guys that won a championship. I share that with him,” Ujiri said, a frown on his face.
Ujiri also recalled Siakam’s humble beginnings. “A lot of people don’t know that when Pascal came to Basketball Without Borders in South Africa, he was supposed to return to Pastoral school,” Ujiri revealed. “Now he’s All-NBA, All-Star, all everything. Championship. … That guy’s success is my success, no matter where he is.”
During the press conference, Ujiri was asked if being “colder” in business and management would be advantageous. The question opened a floodgate of emotions. Ujiri spoke about the emotional toll these tough decisions take. “Colder than I am now? I mean, goddamn,” he began. “I don’t know if it gets any colder, man.”
The Toronto president also remembered the difficulty of informing DeMar DeRozan about the Chicago trade. “This is a tough business. I walked around a hotel for two hours — two hours — in Kenya, to sum up the courage to call DeMar [DeRozan]. And I’m a tough motherf—. The human part of this business is tough … My son texted me and said, ‘You traded OG?’ It’s tough,” Ujiri confessed.
Ujiri then reflected on other difficult cases. He believes dealing with human value always results in breaking personal bonds. “I remember me and Bobby [Webster] sitting in my office to sum up the courage to walk from my office to coach Casey’s office. Or to walk from my office to Nick Nurse’s office. Do you know how hard that is? When you share a championship or a Coach of the Year … With time, it heals a little bit but it’s not easy, man,” he admitted.
The recent trade of Fred VanVleet during the summer was another tough one. “… Trading a player and when a player leaves is the most difficult thing. Fred [VanVleet] said it. When he was asked, ‘What was the most difficult thing?’ He said it was the call he made to me. I remember that call. It’s the most difficult thing in this business,” Ujiri concluded.