The Toronto Raptors are falling apart during their nine-game losing streak that has sunk the season on the precipice of the trade deadline.
The latest incident comes from Pascal Siakam and head coach Nick Nurse after the conclusion of the Raptors' dispiriting loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Nurse benched Siakam for the fourth quarter in favour of third-stringers Pat McCaw and Stanley Johnson, which led to a heated exchange where Siakam directed words towards Nurse after the game, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Charania added that Siakam is expected to be fined $50,000 by the team, but that report was directly refuted by Raptors press relations, who told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star that the matter is still being discussed and "no decisions" have been made as to any potential punishment.
Nurse was asked about his decision to bench Siakam following the loss to Cleveland and said it was due to conditioning, which was plausible since the 26-year-old was only cleared to return after a bout from COVID-19 last week. But it was just as likely due to a lack of production from Siakam, who shot 4-of-12 and was a minus-11 in 25 minutes. Nurse played Siakam for his standard 36 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Monday night, which resulted in yet another loss despite an improved 21-point, 10-rebound effort from Siakam.
This wasn't the first time Siakam was benched this season. Siakam played just 24 minutes in a loss to the Miami Heat in February, shortly before he was placed in health and safety protocols. He was also disciplined in December for leaving the court early after fouling out in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and was made to sit out the next contest, although he wasn't formally suspended so it did not result in a loss of pay.
Nurse himself was fined $50,000 on Sunday after chucking his mask in protest of their loss to Utah Friday night, where the Raptors shot 14 free throws compared to 41 for the Jazz.
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