The Toronto Raptors had their Media Day on Oct. 2 and then flew out to British Columbia to begin training camp on Oct.3.
The Raptors begin their preseason on Oct. 8 against the Sacramento Kings. Meanwhile, the Raptors’ regular season starts on Oct. 25 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As the countdown to the start of the 2023-24 NBA season is officially on, let’s dive into the three biggest questions the Raptors face going into this new season.
What will happen with Pascal Siakam?
The Raptors and Pascal Siakam have yet to discuss a contract extension. Siakam is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The Raptors are eligible to sign Siakam now to a maximum contract extension of four years and at least $192 million.
However, if Siakam holds out for now and makes the All-NBA team this season, he would be eligible for a five-year $307.23 million supermax contract next summer.
Siakam was asked during Raptors Media Day if he was open to signing an extension with the Raptors and he said “I just want to be a part of something awesome. I want to win games and have fun. That’s all I care about right now.”
He went on to say “I’ll leave those type of questions to the people who represent me. That’s why I pay them.”
Masai Ujiri didn’t endorse the idea of re-signing Siakam either, saying that he and the team still haven’t talked to the two-time All-Star about a possible contract extension.
Then Ujiri raised eyebrows when he seemingly called out Siakam when talking about the team being selfish last season and not playing the right way.
It appears the Raptors are going to take a wait and see approach with Siakam and see how the team performs this season.
However, the Raptors can’t afford to mishandle the Siakam situation how they mishandled the Fred VanVleet situation. Potentially losing Siakam for nothing in free agency would be a disaster.
Do the Raptors have plans of keeping Siakam long term? Will the Raptors trade Siakam at the NBA Trade Deadline if the team underperforms? Will the Raptors even be willing to give Siakam the supermax if he makes the All-NBA team this season? These are things to look out for this season.
What will the Raptors starting lineup be?
One of the biggest on court questions going into this season is what will the Raptors starting lineup look like.
There’s been speculation that Scottie Barnes will run the point and Dennis Schroder will come off the bench. However, after Schroder’s dominant FIBA World Cup performance, it’s now believed that Schroder will start at the point guard spot with Gary Trent Jr. coming off the bench.
According to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, he says that Darko Rajakovic was non-committal on the subject when he spoke about it at training camp:
Was too chatty at Raptor 1st practice today to post updates but worth noting Otto Porter Jr. is healthy & went full go, so we’ll see. And Dennis Schroder said he’s not fussed about starting, which is good because Darko Rajakovic was, um, non-committal on subject when he spoke.
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) October 3, 2023
It’s be interesting to see what the Raptors roll out on opening night.
What’s the direction of this team?
The biggest question going into this new Raptors season is what is the direction of this team? Do the Raptors want to fully commit to Scottie Barnes and build around him or are they still trying to win now?
The Raptors offseason didn’t exactly make that clear. The Raptors made win now moves by resigning Jakob Poeltl and signing veteran guard Dennis Schroder. But then there were rumors surrounding the Raptors possibly trading Pascal Siakam. Many teams were interested in Siakam, including the Atlanta Hawks, but the Raptors rejected their deal.
Then as the Siakam trade rumors cooled down, the team found itself in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes but ultimately didn’t get a deal done despite being the frontrunner.
Toronto as of now appears to be in the middle. They have three players in Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. who are set to become unrestricted free agents next summer.
The Raptors need to decide if they’re going to try and offload these players at the deadline for assets to signal a rebuild or re-sign these players and try to make a splash for a star.
The confusing part is the Raptors have been reluctant to trade Barnes in deals for superstars. First for Kevin Durant and then for Damian Lillard. They also haven’t shown a sense of urgency when it comes to re-signing Siakam or Anunoby. Therefore, the Raptors could be looking to see how this season plays out before they make their final decision on what direction they want to take.
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