The Toronto Raptors benched their All Star forward Pascal Siakam for new year's game against the New York Knicks. Siakam, who was a member of the Raptors team that won the 2019 NBA title, breached some of the team's rules and he was disciplined for it.
However, the Raptors had no problems without Siakam in the lineup as they routinely handled the Knicks 100-83. "It was a discipline thing for an internal matter," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after his team won its first game of the season, as quoted on ESPN.
"That's the decision we went with. We're just going to keep it at that." Siakam is one of the leaders on the team and benching him as a disciplinary move sent a clear message to the rest of the team. "Just a certain way we want to do things.
Everybody has got to be a part of that. It's just as simple as that," coach Nurse added.
Fred VanVleet confident Siakam will bounce back well
Raptors guard VanVleet stepped up in the absence of Siakam as he scored a game-high 25 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds.
VanVleet insisted Siakam took the benching well and he is confident that it won't create any problems within the team. "This is something that's not going to linger around," VanVleet said. "It's done and over with.
[Pascal] was great. He handled it very well. He was a great energy for us on the bench tonight even though he wasn't played. Can't wait to get him back out there." Raptors forward Norman Powell replaced Siakam in the starting lineup and scored 17 points.
"Next man up," Powell said, when asked what his thought process was when he was told he was starting in place of Siakam. "Everything we deal with as a team is always internal, so we deal with that. We understand what happened and why, but we don't harp on it.
We focus on the game, everybody taking advantage of this opportunity being the next man up, going in there, executing the game plan and doing whatever it takes to get that first win. And when Pascal comes back, we still got to come out with that energy, no matter what the role is and how many minutes you play. That energy we played with tonight has to be consistent going forward."