NBA Trade Rumors: Spurs' Jakob Poeltl Interests Raptors Ahead of DeadlineJanuary 14, 2022
The Toronto Raptors are reportedly interested in acquiring San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.
Toronto selected Poeltl ninth overall in the 2016 draft and later traded him to the Spurs as part of the Kawhi Leonard deal in 2018. The 26-year-old has spent four of his six NBA seasons in San Antonio.
"The Raptors' recent 11-4 surge propelled them into Eastern Conference playoff contention, and they have been looking for center upgrades for some time," Stein wrote in his newsletter.
However, Stein mentioned the Raptors are in a tough spot with their luxury tax situation. Toronto is $268,420 below the luxury tax threshold and it's unclear if the franchise would be willing to exceed that number in a deal for Poeltl.
Poeltl agreed to a three-year, $27 million extension with the Spurs during the 2020 offseason. He is making $8.75 million this season and is set to make $9.4 million during the 2022-23 campaign.
The Austrian is in the midst of his most productive season in the NBA, averaging a career-high 12.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field.
Poeltl is San Antonio's top center, playing in a starting lineup that includes Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and Doug McDermott. Drew Eubanks and Jock Landale are behind him on the depth chart, and it's unclear if the Spurs would be comfortable elevating either player to a starting position.
The Raptors, meanwhile, could definitely use an upgrade at the five. Precious Achiuwa, who is just 22 years old, is averaging 7.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. While those numbers aren't bad by any means, the team could use some more experience and the added depth.
Behind Achiuwa, the Raptors are rolling with Khem Birch and Daniel Oturu. However, Birch continues to struggle with a nagging knee injury which has limited him throughout the season.
Toronto is eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 20-18 record. At just 6.5 games behind the No. 1 Chicago Bulls, it's not surprising that the Raptors are ready to make a splash at the trade deadline.