Pascal Siakam can't hide how happy he is for Fred VanVleet

Arun Srinivasan
·3-min read

Pascal Siakam cemented his place as one of the pillars of the Toronto Raptors’ future when he signed a four-year, $130-million extension prior to the 2019-20 NBA season. After Fred VanVleet signed his own four-year, $85-million extension this offseason, Siakam couldn’t be more excited to work in tandem with his friend and longtime teammate as the core components of the franchise for at least the next few years.

Siakam spoke at length to the media Thursday, following an offseason where he’s been largely absent from social media or other press opportunities. Asked by TSN’s Josh Lewenberg to reflect on how he felt about VanVleet’s deal, Siakam revealed that he had exchanged a series of texts and phone calls with the Raptors’ point guard during the process.

"I was super excited for him, man. Just remembering all those days, coming in he wasn't drafted,” Siakam said.

"I think just to see how far we came, it's kind of crazy. I always say he's one of my favourite players to watch play. I'm just happy that he's here, he's with us and we can just continue to build on such a great thing that we started. I can't wait, man, to be out there on the floor with him and obviously just being around him is always fun. I'm super happy for him, excited for his family and he definitely deserves it."

VanVleet’s extension was the culmination of his “Bet On Yourself” mantra coming full circle, rising as an undrafted guard out of Wichita State — despite a prolific collegiate career — helping the Raptors 905 win a G-League championship alongside Siakam in 2016-17. Both franchise players ascended through the ranks together, as Siakam was a consistent secondary scorer throughout the 2019 title run. VanVleet, meanwhile, exploded against the Milwaukee Bucks during the Eastern Conference Finals and never looked back, while starring as the primary guard against Steph Curry in the Raptors’ triumph over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Both players embody the Raptors’ rise as a franchise from also-ran, to playoff perennial, to championship contender as the 2019-20 Raptors were largely written off after Kawhi Leonard departed in free agency, only to see Siakam morph into an All-NBA caliber forward while VanVleet proved he can feature as the primary guard on both sides of the ball as a well-rounded offensive threat and elite on-ball defender.

It’s been a tough offseason for Siakam, whose struggles during the NBA bubble were magnified on social media, as some critics scapegoated him for the Raptors’ elimination by the Boston Celtics in the second round. Siakam has largely gone about his business quietly, but with his long-time running mate back with the Raptors for the next four years, this partnership isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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