Dear Pascal: Stay in Indianapolis. Please. Don't make us beg -- although we will
Free agent-to-be Pascal Siakam has made a seamless transition to life with the Pacers. Management believes it can sign him to a max extension. Let the recruitment begin.
For the love of all that is good and holy, do not break Indy’s heart and leave for another franchise when free agency comes at season’s end. Honestly, I’m not sure this town can emotionally navigate another rejection, the way Paul George and Victor Oladipo left Indianapolis in the dust all those years ago. You can only be left at the altar so many times, you know?
The Pacers don’t just want Siakam to sign what’s expected to be a five-year, megamillion-dollar contract at season’s end, they need him to fall in love with the team and the town and commit to Indiana long term. This isn’t just a fun, high-scoring team anymore. It’s also a playoff-caliber team, a group that’s held on through Haliburton’s hamstring injury and is only now starting to see how magical the Haliburton-Siakam combo can be.
Consider something Haliburton did Tuesday night after the Pacers’ victory over the Rockets. He sought out Fred Van Vleet, the former Raptors guard now in Houston, and picked his brain, attempting to learn the best places to get Siakam the basketball.
“How can I help `P’?’’ Haliburton asked Van Vleet.
“That’s what I like the most about him (Haliburton),” Siakam said. “Just him talking to (people) before I got here. His knowledge for the game, wanting to win, wanting to get better. Those are the special ones, the ones who want to learn…”
The Pacers, as a team and an organization, have fully embraced Siakam (why wouldn’t they?) and Siakam has returned the favor. He is averaging 22.3, seven rebounds and five assists in his 11 games here, and again, that’s with Haliburton on a minutes restriction. Tuesday night, he helped carry Indiana over the hot-shooting Rockets, finishing with 29 points before Haliburton closed the deal.
Rick Carlisle has always admired Siakam’s well-rounded game from afar; now, his appreciation has grown as he’s gotten to know him more intimately.