Siakam: Last year's struggles linked with not feeling like 'the guy'
In the first season of a four-year, $136.9-million extension, Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam recorded an effective field-goal rate of 49.3%, the worst of his career. He also battled COVID-19 and a shoulder injury last campaign, the latter of which is expected to delay his availability to start next season.
Part of the issue, the 27-year-old says, was the organization hadn't communicated its expectation of what his role on the Raptors would be in light of his big payday.
"Obviously, Kyle (Lowry) was there, being a point guard. Kyle was, to me, always the greatest Raptor of all time. I think he was always like, 'I was the guy,'" Siakam told The New York Times' Sopan Deb. "I had the contract, but I never really felt like I was the guy, to be honest."
Siakam added that discussions about being the Raptors' centerpiece moving forward are "happening now." He also said his relationships with team president Masai Ujiri and head coach Nick Nurse - with whom Siakam had a tense postgame argument in March - are in good shape.
Now, Siakam, an All-NBA second-team selection as recently as 2019-20, is focused on returning to All-Star status and improving on Toronto's 27-45 (.375) record last campaign, the first losing season of his career. He's aware his name has surfaced in trade chatter throughout the summer but isn't putting too much stock in those reports.
"(The trade rumors) didn't bother me, really, because I never really heard anything from the Raptors," Siakam explained. "Even all the news I was seeing, it was never like: 'Oh. The Raptors wanted to give up Siakam for this.' It was always like, 'The Warriors like Pascal,' or it was always, 'The Kings like Pascal,' or this.
"There was never nothing where it was like, 'The Raptors wanted to give away Pascal.'"