TORONTO - A lot of things at Scotiabank Arena still feel familiar to Pascal Siakam, but he's already noticing some differences just a month after he was traded from the Toronto Raptors.

Siakam and the Indiana Pacers visited Toronto on Wednesday for his first game against the Raptors since he was traded on Jan. 17. He played the first eight years of his professional career in Toronto and was instrumental in the Raptors' championship run of 2019.

“It was weird,” said Siakam courtside after morning shootaround. “I've never been to (the visitors') part of the building. Maybe during the playoffs I went to that side because I think the interviews were over there. There's places where I've never been so it's just kind of weird, to be honest.

“Just seeing the building, I have a lot of memories here, you feel comfortable. I know I have a different jersey on but just coming into this building brings up a lot of things.”

In addition to winning the NBA Finals with the Raptors, he was a two-time all-star with the team, was named to the All-NBA team twice, and earned the league's Most Improved Player Award in 2018-19.

Every time Siakam appeared on Scotiabank Arena's video monitors during the singing of the national anthems the sold-out crowd of 19,800 cheered. He was also the last player announced during the Pacers' team introductions, with a lengthy video tribute playing to officially welcome him to the court.

Siakam said before the game that he was trying not to think about how the tribute would feel.

“I just want to go out there and deal with it as it comes and not try to anticipate it much,” he said. “You go to a place where you're going to see a lot of familiar faces, people I've seen for the past eight years of my life, these people have been part of my life.

“Just seeing everyone is going to be exciting. I'm sure seeing some of the fans, certain faces I've seen every game, seeing those faces, I think it gives you a little peaceful feeling: 'I know what this feels like.”'

Siakam had a taste of that on Wednesday morning, excitedly greeting security guards and venue staff by name as he was leaving Scotiabank Arena's court following shootaround.

“I'm a guy that I get comfortable and I like certain things, so it was definitely an adjustment,” said Siakam on adjusting to the Pacers organization. “But I think the guys here just made it so much easier. Just support from the organization, support from everyone.”

Andrew Nembhard, the Pacers 24-year-old backup point guard from Aurora, Ont., was certainly glad to have Siakam come to Indiana after watching him help Toronto win the championship five years ago.

“I knew him a little bit before he came to our team,” said Nembhard, who is represented by the same agency as Siakam. “He's the type of guy who is super unselfish but a winner so it was fun having him added to our team.”

Before Siakam was traded there were several media reports that a rift had developed between him and Raptors team president Masai Ujiri, with no communication between either party for months. Ujiri acknowledged that in a post-trade news conference on Jan. 18 and publicly apologized for his role in he and Siakam drifting apart.

Siakam was gracious about the situation on Wednesday.

“Masai has been always a mentor, someone that I looked up to, but at some point it's like 'I'm growing, I'm a man,”' he said. “That communication, hey man, I understand it. I get it. I understand the business. I've been around, so I've seen things happen.

“I'm moving on from it. I'm in a situation like I said, where it just feels amazing and I think that at this point I've kind of moved on from it. I'm just not really like reflecting on that.”

Siakam is averaging 21.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this season between Toronto and Indiana.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2024.