With no game on the schedule, last night should have been a quiet night for Chicago Bulls fans. Instead, we witnessed a trade go down that just might have huge ramifications for teams in the Eastern Conference moving forward. That's because All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam's eight-year tenure with the Toronto Raptors will be coming to an end as he joins the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers.
As an impending unrestricted free agent, the Raptors were put in a position where they'd have to trade Pascal or risk losing him for nothing in the offseason. His status as a free agent understandably brought down the asking price, allowing the Pacers to swoop in and win the Siakam sweepstakes by offering Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three future first-round picks.
Just weeks removed from trading away OG Anunoby to the New York Knicks, this move solidifies Toronto's decision to go in another direction by building around Scottie Barnes as the centerpiece. Acquiring three first-round picks and a desirable veteran like Bruce Brown is a very fair package in return for a player who poses a major flight risk like Siakam.
Fortunately for the Pacers, these picks almost certainly will come deep into the late 20s, considering they are Indiana's 2024 and 2026 picks, as well as the worst of the Jazz, Rockets, Clippers, and Thunder's pick in 2024. If Indiana feels confident that Siakam will re-sign this summer, this may end up being quite the steal. Adding Siakam to the NBA's best offense alongside budding superstar Tyrese Haliburton feels like it just might be a recipe for success moving forward.
If the Bulls are ever going to make a big move, following in the wake of the Pascal Siakam trade might be their best shot.
This trade will obviously drastically alter the trajectory of the Pacers and Raptors moving forward, but the Bulls will also be impacted by the fallout of this deal. By pulling the trigger now, one of Chicago's Eastern Conference rivals just significantly improved their odds of contending, while the other one got a headstart on racing down the standings and improving their draft lottery odds.
For a team stuck in NBA purgatory like the Bulls, this couldn't be worse news. This team's inability to choose a direction has resulted in several wasted years that could have otherwise been spent fighting through the postseason or developing talent for the future.
There may still be some light at the end of the tunnel, however, as this trade could be a positive sign for the Bulls ahead of the trade deadline. With DeMar DeRozan's fate hanging in the balance as a free agent this summer, this deal proves there are still teams out there willing to take a gamble on the right player, even if it means potentially losing them in free agency.
Considering Siakam is due a massive extension, Indiana's willingness to make this trade might also signal other teams are willing to spend big for the right fit — a detail that would tremendously help in moving Zach LaVine's max contract that runs through 2027. Of course, Siakam is the superior talent to both DeMar and Zach at this point, but that doesn't mean there won't still be a market for the two former All-Stars.
Chicago's front office must now decide if they wish to continue down a path more akin to the one Indiana is currently traveling by trying to win now, or instead follow in Toronto's footsteps by blowing the whole thing up and rebuilding from the ground up. I believe the correct answer is as plain as day — and most of my fellow Bulls fans would agree — but I'm not so sure Arturas Karnisovas has the resolve necessary to own up to his failures and dismantle the team he so carefully assembled in the first place.