The top and middle of the Eastern Conference is packed with intrigue and young talent that could make the postseason a wild free-for-all the next few years. At 37-45 and five games short of the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament, the Indiana Pacers feel tiers away from entering that conversation. A promising roster and an ambitious front office could force their way in faster than you think, though.

General manager Chad Buchanon has been trying to acquire Toronto Raptors wing OG Anunoby for some time, but Masai Ujiri has not budged. However, another star could be available. Indiana has reportedly contacted Toronto about the availability of forward Pascal Siakam. Such a move would immediately alter both franchise's competitive trajectories and potentially have major implications for the future state of the conference.

That would be the message to Pacers fans, at least. Siakam gives the team another high-level player who nicely balances out a tantalizing frontcourt. Expectations substantially increase if he arrives in Indianapolis. Head coach Rick Carlisle would still have work to do to separate from the several other talented Eastern squads, but Siakam affords him and the organization some added time while they wait for their prized young pieces like Bennedict Mathurin to keep developing.

What will it take to make a deal happen, though? Surrendering too many assets for an expiring contract can absolutely ruin a franchise that relies on youth and the NBA Draft to ascend into prominence. But there is an ideal offer in Buchanon's grasp. Let's do our best to iron it all out.

Perfect trade Pacers must offer Raptors for Pascal Siakam

If Raptors president Masai Ujiri is seriously entertaining either Indiana or the Atlanta Hawks in talks for Siakam, then the only thing of interest to him will be stockpiling picks and young players. The Pacers can oblige on both fronts, but they cannot be too generous. The Cameroon native is already 29 and will command a very sizable contract extension. Investing in him makes no sense if they have to part with anything of high tangible value.

That means draft picks should definitely be up for grabs, but Mathurin and rookie Jarace Walker need to be labeled “off limits.” A trade is harder to envision without either of those two talents, but Indy can still take advantage of an impending rebuild. The Raptors do not want to lose return value on Siakam because they waited too long.

Chad Buchanon and the Pacers front office can make an offseason exchange worth their while. Their roster depth enables them to present a tempting trade package that keeps their ceiling high for the future. Indiana has to call Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster with the following:

Pacers should offer Raptors Buddy Hield, two first-round draft picks and Andrew Nembhard

For the record, I understand this is a steep haul for Pascal Siakam. While he is a legitimate force on the offensive end who is coming off his second All-Star campaign, a heavy workload the last couple seasons make him somewhat of a long-term risk. The team would also be giving up impressive backup point guard Andrew Nembhard, fan favorite Buddy Hield and two future first-rounders who can round out their squad. But this is the price to bring in a NBA champion.

The appeal of adding Siakam with Tyrese Haliburton to form a star duo will be too high for the Pacers to resist sending this offer. Either Heild or Myles Turner will be the main player included in the potential trade. There does not appear to be a way around that. Keeping Turner makes much more sense for Rick Carlisle. That frontcourt, as noted by Alex Golden, could be downright imposing if he once again survives the rumor mill.

The Raptors are going to want one player they can immediately develop to be a part of their future core. Hield makes the money line up but will probably not factor in to the franchise's big picture. Andrew Nembhard can, though. The 2022 second-round pick out of Gonzaga brought with him a wealth of experience to Indiana and carved out a solid rotational role in his rookie season. He can build off that going forward if he stays put. But he can thrive on a Toronto team who just saw point guard Fred VanVleet exit the Great North.

Fans will not like it, but that is a fair compromise. That takes us to the draft picks portion of the terms. Buchanon should hold firm at one first-rounder as long as he could, but given that he just received an extra one for 2024 in a trade with the Denver Nuggets, the front office might be inclined to cave on a second one. We've seen the value of second-round selections spike, so the Pacers could preserve some of their high-end draft capital. Ujiri is going to pitch Siakam hard to any suitors, however.

Again, we are talking was an important member of the only championship team in Raptors' franchise history. The Pacers are hoping he helps take them to new heights as well. The cost for a difference maker is expensive. Though, when looking at a finished lineup comprised of Tyrese Haliburton, newly signed Bruce Brown Jr. or Bennedict Mathurin, Jarace Walker, Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner, fans should be able to sleep just fine.