Jakob Poeltl

Southwest Notes: Poeltl, Landale, Zion, Silas

Spurs center Jakob Poeltl returned to action last Thursday after missing six games due to COVID-19, but he’s still feeling the effects of the layoff, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl, who is fully vaccinated, was in the league’s health and safety protocols for 16 days and said the adjustment of returning to a full-time schedule has been difficult.

“I had to get my conditioning, but also sitting at home for a week and a half, you’re not shooting the basketball,” he said. “It’s tough to get back in game rhythm. But it’s feeling better with every minute I am out there.”

Poeltl, who moved into the starting lineup in the middle of last season, has been putting up career-best numbers this year with 12.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He said recovering from the virus has been different than coming back after being injured.

“It’s a little weird, because with getting COVID and stuff, it takes the wind away,” Poeltl said. “Everybody is cautious about running or whether you’re putting out too much energy. So even the build-up process was slower than it would be for a regular injury.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie center Jock Landale has also cleared protocols, McDonald adds. Landale, who has only appeared in four games this season, is available tonight for the first time since November 10.
  • The Pelicans are waiting for a foot specialist to process the latest scans on Zion Williamson, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Williamson has been playing 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games, but hasn’t been cleared to participate in practice. The team expects the results to be available within a few days.
  • Amid rumors about his job security, Rockets coach Stephen Silas hasn’t lost track of his dual responsibilities of trying to get a few wins while developing his young players, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “It’s yeah, we want to win a game,” Silas said in tonight’s pre-game session with the media. “We want to get off this (15-game losing) streak. We want to get off this slide and I want it so badly for the group, but I also understand it’s developing these guys and I got to do both.”

Spurs Notes: Johnson, Popovich, Murray, Poeltl, Eubanks, Young

Spurs forward Keldon Johnson has signed with Klutch Sports for representation, the agency announced earlier this week (via Twitter). Johnson is still on his rookie contract, but will become extension-eligible for the first time during the 2022 offseason.

As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes, Johnson was previously represented by Fundamental Sports Management, an agency based in San Antonio. Johnson said he has “nothing but good words to say” about FSM, but decided that a change in representation was the best business move for his career.

“It was long and thought-out, but at the end of the day, I am up and coming, and I just wanted the best representation,” Johnson said.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • The Spurs’ 4-11 record is tied for the third-worst mark in the NBA, but head coach Gregg Popovich is still having a good time working with his young roster, Orsborn writes for the Express-News. “They are growing, doing little things better all the time,” Popovich said after Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers. “Frustrating to lose, but when a team is working that hard and willing to learn, it’s enjoyable as hell, even in a loss. I’m proud of the way they are competing. Now we just have to make fewer mistakes and have a couple of guys play better.”
  • Dejounte Murray, who is in the second season of a four-year contract with San Antonio, has been a bright spot for the team so far, as Orsborn says in another Express-News story. “We haven’t exactly amazed the world, but if we didn’t have him we would be in big trouble,” Popovich said on Thursday. “He’s looking for other teammates to join him in playing as well as he is.” Murray struggled in the Spurs’ Thursday loss to Minnesota, but still has impressive season-long averages of 18.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.8 APG, and 2.0 SPG.
  • After missing seven games due to a symptomatic case of COVID-19, Jakob Poeltl returned to action on Thursday. However, he’s facing a minutes restriction and was limited to a season-low 15 minutes in his return. “I honestly felt pretty good conditioning-wise,” he said after the game, per Orsborn. “But I feel like I still need to get my rhythm again. It’s kind of weird playing these short, limited minutes. It’s tough to get into the game.”
  • In yet another story for the Express-News, Orsborn takes a closer look at the bond that has developed between young center Drew Eubanks and veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who has served as a mentor to Eubanks. “We have a great relationship,” Eubanks said. “He’s always in my ear.”

Southwest Notes: Poeltl, Finney-Smith, Green, Kleber

Jakob Poeltl has been out since November 1 due to the league’s health and safety protocols and the Spurs have missed his inside presence, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Poeltl is the team’s top rebounder at 9.7 per game.

“We are a small team,” Spurs forward Thaddeus Young said. “We are shorthanded most nights as far as getting rebounds and being physical under the basket.”

Poeltl is back with the Spurs, but won’t play on Tuesday due to reconditioning.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Some Mavericks fans are lobbying for Reggie Bullock to be inserted in the lineup, but Dorian Finney-Smith has stepped up his game as of late, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Finney-Smith had a season-high 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists against San Antonio on Friday. “When you take your mind off the shooting, it kind of takes the pressure away,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there with a lot of energy and shoot the ball with confidence — and worry about [shooting percentage] less.” Finney-Smith, who added eight points against Denver on Monday, will be a free agent after the season.
  • Pelicans first-year Willie Green has kept a consistent message despite the team’s struggles, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Green has emphasized effort, relentlessness and competitiveness, and the players have remained in his corner. “Willie has the ultimate trust in me to go out there and play my game and play with confidence,” Josh Hart said.
  • Maxi Kleber is “progressing” from his left oblique strain, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) and other media members. He has begun doing on-court drills but he’s not doing any contact yet. He suffered the injury on October 31.

Southwest Notes: Alexander-Walker, Brooks, Wood, Poeltl

Like many of his teammates, Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker has struggled out of the gate this fall, prompting Christian Clark of NOLA.com to take a look at his season thus far. The 1-10 Pelicans currently have the NBA’s worst record, and while a lot of that is a result of the extended absences of All-Star forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, Alexander-Walker’s slow start certainly hasn’t helped.

Clark notes that Alexander-Walker has been one of the worst volume shooters in the league, connecting on 35.5% of his 15.4 field goal attempts a game, including 25.3% on his 7.9 three-point looks. Among players attempting at least 10 field goals per night, he currently ranks 114th out of 117 in true shooting percentage. Clark wonders if Alexander-Walker, and the Pelicans, would be better served by correcting the 6’6″ shooting guard’s shot profile (he shoots more from long-range than from within the arc) and attempting more shots inside the paint and fewer from the three-point arc.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With stalwart Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks poised to return to the hardwood for Memphis for the first time since the 2021 playoffs, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a look at how Brooks could spruce up the club’s defense. Brooks has been absent for the entire 2021/22 season to this point with a left hand fracture.
  • Though Rockets power forward Christian Wood seems to be irked about the club’s clear desire to tank in the short-term, he has made a point to express publicly that he wants to stick around, per Rahat Huq of The Houston Chronicle“I’m here to stay in Houston through the good and bad,” Wood tweeted this week.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has revealed that he does not expect center Jakob Poeltl to return from the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols this week, per Tom Orsborne of the San Antonio Express-News“I am not exactly sure” of the big man’s timetable, Popovich said. “They tell me every day, but I’m not a scientist. I listen to what they say, but I know he is not going to be ready for tomorrow or Friday.”

Spurs’ Poeltl In Protocols, Expected To Miss Several Games

Spurs center Jakob Poeltl is the latest NBA player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Based on the adjusted NBA’s protocols for COVID-19 this season, a player who is being ruled out for a few games has generally tested positive, though that hasn’t been confirmed in Poeltl’s case.

The Spurs’ starting center, Poeltl has played well in the early going this season, averaging 13.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 2.6 APG in 29.9 minutes per contest (seven games). All those numbers would be career highs.

With Poeltl unavailable for perhaps the next week or 10 days, backup centers Drew Eubanks and Jock Landale will move up the Spurs’ depth chart. The team could also play more small-ball lineups, with a forward like Thaddeus Young or Keita Bates-Diop in Poeltl’s place.

Besides Poeltl, the players currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocols include Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, Lauri Markkanen, and Kevin Love.

Spurs Notes: Poeltl, Weatherspoon, White, Murray, Vassell

Center Jakob Poeltl has been one of the league’s best shot blockers since moving into the Spurs‘ starting lineup five games ago, writes Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl is averaging 2.8 blocks per game, third in the NBA during that stretch, while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who is dealing with a hip flexor.

“He’s very solid,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He knows where to be on the court. He works really hard on the boards, protecting the rim, he runs the floor. He’s just done an excellent job, and mostly been very consistent.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Reserve guard Quinndary Weatherspoon has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Orsborn adds in a separate story. It’s not clear if Weatherspoon has tested positive for COVID-19 or is merely inactive due to contact tracing, so his quarantine time is uncertain. Drew Eubanks is the only other Spurs player to have gone through the protocols, although assistant coach Becky Hammon and an unidentified staffer were required to quarantine last month.
  • The Spurs’ backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray has become one of the best defensive pairings in the league, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News. Popovich has experimented with the roles for his young guards and hasn’t always started them together. White was a starter in only 20 of 68 games last season and didn’t start alongside Murray until the season resumed in Orlando. “They are great on defense together,” Poeltl said. “I think we are very, very versatile when we have both those guys out there on defense. It’s really helping us.”
  • First-round pick Devin Vassell has already played more minutes than any Spurs rookie since Kawhi Leonard nine years ago, McDonald notes in a separate story. Vassell is leading the team in steals at 1.1 per game and is shooting 40.3% from 3-point range. “One thing about him, he has instincts,” Rudy Gay said. “He showed that from Day 1. You can go out there in any situation, and he’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Spurs Re-Sign Jakob Poeltl To Three-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 24: The Spurs have officially re-signed Poeltl, the team announced today in a press release.


NOVEMBER 20: The Spurs are finalizing a three-year agreement with big man Jakob Poeltl, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The deal will be worth approximately $27MM, Charania adds.

Poeltl was a restricted free agent, since the Spurs extended a qualifying offer of $4.6MM. That was a signal that San Antonio intended to keep him on a multi-year deal.

Poeltl began his career with Toronto and has spent the last two seasons in San Antonio. Last season, he averaged 5.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 17.7 MPG while appearing in 66 games, including 18 starts.

Although he’s not a major offensive weapon, the 25-year-old has shown promising rim-protecting ability (1.4 BPG) and brings effort and energy off the bench. He ranked 21st on our list of 2020’s top free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns’ Saric, Spurs’ Poeltl Among Players Receiving QOs

A series of players have received qualifying offers from their respective teams, making them restricted free agents this fall, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Those players include Suns forward Dario Saric, Suns guard Jevon Carter, Grizzlies two-way guard John Konchar, Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, and Spurs two-way players Quinndary Weatherspoon and Drew Eubanks.

Saric and Poeltl are the most notable names in the group and were also the most likely to receive qualifying offers, since Phoenix and San Antonio will want to retain the ability to match offer sheets on those players. Saric’s QO is worth about $5.1MM, while Poeltl’s is for approximately $4.6MM.

Saric, Poeltl, and the other players who received qualifying offers could accept those one-year contract offers, but will likely try to negotiate new, longer-term deals, either with their own teams or with rival suitors.

The Pistons won’t be extending a qualifying offer to two-way player Jordan Bone, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster confirmed this week that the club will be making its annual qualifying offer to EuroLeague guard Nando De Colo, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). Currently a member of Fenerbahce in Turkey, De Colo hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, but would be a Raptors RFA if he wants to return, since Toronto has issued a QO each year since then.

Potential 2020 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2018/19 and 32 in 2019/20, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

In 2017, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – centers Alex Len and Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,642,800.

As the Nos. 9, 10, and 14 picks in the 2016 draft, Poeltl, Maker, and Valentine won’t be hit particularly hard by falling short of the starter criteria. Their projected qualifying offers would have ranged from approximately $5.09MM to $4.7MM, respectively, so a dip to $4.64MM shouldn’t have a major impact on their respective free agencies. Of the three players, only Poeltl looks like a lock to even receive a QO.

The top-14 pick whose situation remains unclear:

Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding this season, the usual definition of the starter criteria becomes a little more complicated. For instance, if a player started 40 games, but his team’s season ended after 65 games, should he be credited with having met the starter criteria based on the fact that he was “on pace” to do so over a full 82-game season?

There’s only one player who technically didn’t meet the starter criteria but was on pace to do so: Bulls guard Kris Dunn. After starting 44 games in 2018/19, Dunn started 32 of Chicago’s games this year, for a total of 76 over the last two seasons. If his starts this season were prorated over a full 82 games, he would have met the starter criteria.

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to prorate the criteria for performance bonuses and incentives in player contracts — it would make sense for the same rules to apply to Dunn. However, as we discussed last week, the fourth-year guard had a knee injury that was expected to sideline him for the rest of the season before COVID-19 threw the schedule into disarray. The Bulls, who had control over Dunn’s ability to make the last six starts he needed, may push back against the idea that proration should allow him to surpass the starter-criteria threshold.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Hoops Rumors that Dunn will likely be deemed to have met the starter criteria, in which case his qualifying offer will be worth $7,091,457. If that changes, the value of his QO would dip to $4,642,800.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Saric was a 12th overall pick and met the starter criteria with 50 starts this season, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $5,087,871 instead of $4,791,213. No other players fit the bill this year — many of the best players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2016 have already been extended, while the others didn’t have major roles or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Entering the season, Malik Beasley – who logged nearly 1,900 minutes in 2018/19 – looked like the strongest candidate to join Saric in this group. However, Beasley had an inconsistent role in the Nuggets’ rotation before being traded to the Timberwolves, and ended up making just 14 starts (all with Minnesota), with 1,209 total minutes played.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

No second-round picks or undrafted free agents eligible for restricted free agency met the starter criteria this season, which would have put them in line for a qualifying offer worth $3,126,948.

Actually, Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings) technically qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will be worth $10,661,733 based on other criteria, rendering the starter criteria irrelevant for him.

De’Anthony Melton, Kenrich Williams, Torrey Craig, and Jevon Carter were some of the other top candidates to meet the starter criteria among second-rounders and UDFAs, but none ultimately recorded more than 1,011 minutes (Melton) or 18 starts (Williams).

As a result, those players – and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents – won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Salary information from Basketball Insiders used in the creation of this post.

Central Rumors: Poeltl, Griffin, Porter, Thompson

The Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl and the Kings’ Harry Giles are two of the centers the Pistons could target in free agency, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Poeltl began his NBA career under Pistons coach Dwane Casey in Toronto and his agent, Michael Tellem, is the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, Edwards notes. Giles, like Poeltl, has the ability to develop into a much greater force than he’s shown with his current club, Edwards adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The 2019/20 season was a wash for Pistons star forward Blake Griffin due to knee and hamstring injuries. However, the oft-injured Griffin believes he has plenty left in the tank, as he told the Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II (Twitter link) and other media members. Griffin said he doesn’t see his current contract, which lasts through the 2021/22 season, as his last. He also doesn’t view himself as being in decline. Griffin said last month he’s fully recovered from knee surgery in early January.
  • It’s doubtful Otto Porter will remain on the Bulls beyond his current contract, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago speculates. Porter’s expiring contract — provided he opts in for $28.5MM next season — is his main value to the organization. Given Porter’s injury history, Johnson anticipates there are other long-term plans for the wing spot beyond Porter.
  • While many NBA experts believe free agent Tristan Thompson has played his last game with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has heard otherwise (hat tip to Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy). On the Wine and Gold Talk podcast, Fedor said Thompson is intrigued by the idea of finishing his career in Cleveland. “There’s also a sense that the Cavs recognize the value that Tristan Thompson brings,” Fedor said. “And Tristan being one of the greatest Cavaliers of all-time and eventually having his jersey hung and continuing to climb the ranks of the all-time Cavs is something that’s meaningful to him.”