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The Indiana Pacers wouldn't have traded for Pascal Siakam in January if they didn't intend to re-sign him. The 30-year-old forward will be an unrestricted free agent on June 30, though, and, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle told reporters Tuesday that they "can't take for granted that a player like Pascal is going to automatically just want to be back."

In some ways, Indiana has been trying to show Siakam that it's the place for him since the day he arrived. The morning after the Pacers' season ended, though, Carlisle said that "the first very important step" of the offseason is "to begin recruiting Pascal Siakam in earnest." He is eligible to re-sign for up to five years and $245 million, and The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the team is preparing to offer him a maximum contract.

"You trade for a guy, he has a good experience, but you gotta let him know how important he is," Carlisle said. "We've been doing it all along, really, but today is more of a 'Hey, you're our guy.'"

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana's franchise player, did some public recruiting, too. 

"Obviously, it's a big deal to bring Pascal back," Haliburton told reporters. "Just a great addition to our team, and an amazing, amazing player. He knows I'll be texting him nonstop, calling him nonstop. We all would love to have Pascal back, and that's definitely the plan. I can't speak for the man, by any means, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure Pascal Siakam is in a Pacer uniform next year. And I'm excited to begin that recruiting process, I guess, but just to have him as my teammate for the foreseeable future. Hopefully for the rest of his career."

Siakam, who has two All-NBA appearances and two All-Star appearances on his résumé, averaged 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 41 regular-season games for the Pacers. He opened the playoffs with 36- and 37-point games against the Milwaukee Bucks, and his midrange shooting went a long way toward keeping Indiana competitive against the Boston Celtics in the conference finals.

"This is Year 2 of a rebuild," Carlisle said. "This has been accelerated significantly by a couple things: the acquisition of Tyrese Haliburton, which changed the trajectory dramatically, and the acquisition of Pascal."

Carlisle described Siakam as "an amazing person" with "great wisdom." Based on his seven and a half seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Siakam had ideas about things Indiana could do differently and shared them with Carlisle.

"There was a real collaborative spirit there with Pascal," Carlisle said. 

After Indiana's season-ending loss on Monday, Siakam said it had been a "crazy year." He thought he was going to spend the rest of his career in Toronto, but while it was "tough, just going through everything and leaving in the middle of the season," he appreciated the way the Pacers welcomed him.

"After you have that kind of breakup, it's hard, it's tough," Siakam told reporters. "And then you come into here, and I think without that support, I don't know how I would have really [done] it. And I'm so grateful and happy that I came in a place where you just feel so supported and you feel like you're needed, you feel like you matter. And as a player, that's really all you can ask for."

Siakam told reporters that he wouldn't talk directly about free agency. Repeatedly, though, he said that the franchise had made him feel valued.

"All I can say is, yeah, it's been a blessing," Siakam said. "And I'm really appreciative of everything. I think, coming from where I come from, yeah, it means a lot. And the support that I've received here is something that I was kind of missing. And having all that, and seeing how a city just breathes basketball and just how much support they give to the team, just being here, the home games, it's incredible. How would you not be a part of that? So I think for me, I'm just really blessed and happy for how this has been. And I think that, in terms of future, whatever happens is gonna happen."

The best way for Indiana to show Siakam how much it values him is by offering him the full five years at max money on June 30. If there is some negotiating to be done, it's because the Pacers are about to get much more expensive for other reasons -- Siakam's $42.3 million starting salary on a max deal would equal Haliburton's 2024-25 salary, a result of the 24-year-old guard making All-NBA this season, and both Andrew Nembhard and T.J. McConnell will be eligible for contract extensions this summer. Obi Toppin, Siakam's backup, will be a restricted free agent, too.

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