Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl could be traded to Celtics, Raptors – mySA

Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has had trade talk surrounding him for nearly a year now. Seemingly everyone in the league has looked at what Poeltl offers and how he could fit into their systems. With the Spurs in full rebuild mode and Poeltl probably too talented for that, other teams have been circling the big man for quite some time.

Poeltl, playing in his seventh season, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. San Antonio has had a standing offer for four years and $58 million since before this year but, as reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, but that deal has been declined. Charania’s sources reportedly feel that Poeltl desire to compete at a higher level will be a factor when he considers free agency. 

Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on January 09, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on January 09, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Spurs obviously want him around and can work out a bigger deal in the offseason, but that’s risky. By the time the summer rolls around, Poeltl will be free to sign wherever he wants and that would leave the Spurs with nothing. Thus the Spurs have a tricky decision to make: take the chance he re-signs, or don’t take the risk and trade him now to get back assets while they still can.

Still, the Spurs would like to keep him if they can, especially if they win the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. But ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski is expecting significant offers to be made for Poeltl. Centers have become much more coveted this year as contending teams know they need size to compete with prominent bigs like the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Among teams reported to be significantly interested are the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. Boston proved to be an effective trade partner for San Antonio last year at the trade deadline. The Celtics sent Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a 2022 first round pick that eventually turned into Blake Wesley, and a 2028 pick to the Spurs in exchange for Derrick White. 

Per The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, San Antonio is looking for something similar for Poeltl. 

Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs battles Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans for rebound ing position in the first half at AT&T Center on November 23, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. 

Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs battles Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans for rebound ing position in the first half at AT&T Center on November 23, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. 

Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Celtics themselves may not need Poeltl. They have several bigs already but have also had some injury issues, and it might make sense to have some insurance in Poeltl as a backup. Toronto would be an interesting move because it’s the team that originally drafted Poeltl. Plus, the Raptors have been doing something of an experiment by playing basically full line-ups of wings. Trading for a traditional center would mean giving up on that experiment. 

According to Charania, rival executives believe that Poeltl will approach the $20 million annual price tag for his new contract, and he deserves it. He’s shooting 73% at the rim this year combined with 63% effective field goal percentage, both in the 92nd percentile for the league (per Dunksandthrees.com), and 82nd and 74th percentile for bigs. He’s been spectacular for San Antonio the entire time he’s been here, dealing him won’t be a decision to be made lightly. 

The NBA trade deadline is 2 p.m. on February 9. Until then, we’ll have to wait and see if and where Poeltl ends up.

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