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The big man the Raptors waived to complete Pascal Siakam trade, has career-threatening blood clots, per report

Amid all the excitement over the Pascal Siakam trade on Thursday, a small bit of news flew under the radar. The Toronto Raptors waived second-year big man Christian Koloko in order to complete the blockbuster three-team deal with the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans

Now, we know why. Koloko is dealing with career-threatening blood clots, according to Shams Charania. 

“The NBA informed teams today that Christian Koloko has been referred to the NBA’s Fitness-to-Play Panel,” Charania said. “That essentially means that he’s unable to play or practice in the NBA until he’s cleared. There’s been no shortage of suitors, of teams interested in Koloko, calling his camp ever since he was waived yesterday by the Raptors to make space for that Pascal Siakam trade. I’m told that the reason he has this career-threatening issue is a blood clot situation, a source close to him told me.”

After flashing dominant defensive potential in college at Arizona, Koloko was selected with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. He appeared in 58 games for the Raptors last season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds, and also spent time in the G League. This summer, however, he was ruled out of Summer League and was not ready for the start of the season either. 

The Raptors had been vague about the situation through the entire process, noting only that it was a “respiratory issue.” During a press conference on Thursday, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said that Koloko’s health status is “in the hands of the NBA.” 

“This is a player that we felt was really a big part of our future,” Ujiri said. “This was a big one for us and it didn’t work out that way for now. His medical status is now in the hands of the NBA. But that’s a very tough one for us because that’s somebody we really believed in, someone that I know has incredible talent, and we saw has a future on this team, but we’ve exhausted all our options there.”

Per the collective bargaining agreement, the Fitness-to-Play Panel shall “consist of one (1) physician appointed by the NBA, one (1) physician appointed by the Players Association, and one (1) physician appointed by agreement of the first two (2) physicians.” Each panel then operates by majority vote on whether the player can return to action. 

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