Jakob Poeltl

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Poeltl, Pelicans GM, Llull

Gregg Popovich has the Spurs on the verge of another playoff appearance in a season that could have been a disaster, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Early-season injuries forced Popovich to use a point guard committee until Derrick White was healthy, Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl all had to step into important roles and the retirement of Manu Ginobili and the departure of Tony Parker cut the last ties to the Spurs’ glory days. Still, with a 43-31 record, the franchise is on the verge of its 22nd straight trip to the playoffs.

“For guys that have been elsewhere, they come in and they can sense it’s a different environment,” Patty Mills said. “They can notice the difference. It takes some time for players to adjust to how different it is. People have always said you needed to be a certain type of person to be in this environment and to be coached by Pop, and it’s true. The way he coaches his players is a certain way. You’ve seen the way he’s coached Tim (Duncan) and Manu. You see that interaction between coach and player, and everyone else falls in line after that. You know if he yells at you, you can’t say anything back. It’s those little things you have to get guys to understand.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Popovich would like to make Poeltl the Spurs‘ starting center for the rest of the season, but matchups may keep that from happening, notes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. With so many teams playing non-traditional lineups, it’s not always wise to put two big men on the floor. “We like to play big because we do a pretty good job of locking down the paint with myself and (LaMarcus Aldridge) on the court,” Poeltl said. “We’ve got to find the right matchups and the right situations where we can do that.”
  • Interim GM Danny Ferry will be among the candidates as the Pelicans conduct their GM search, according to Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter link). Owner Gayle Benson said Monday that the franchise will consider five or six candidates to become the replacement for Dell Demps, who was fired in February. Based on what he has heard, Mackel believes that Ferry will be on that list, along with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon and Rockets VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.
  • As the NBA marks its 13th annual Latin celebration, Rosas talks with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated about the need to get more Latin Americans involved in management.
  • Spanish guard Sergio Llull, whose rights have been held by the Rockets since 2009, hasn’t ruled out coming to the NBA someday, his agent, Ernest Berenguer, says in an interview with NBA Spain (translated by Sportando). Llull will be 34 when his contract with Real Madrid expires in 2021.

Spurs Exercise 2019/20 Options On Jakob Poeltl, Derrick White

The Spurs have exercised the 2019/20 options in the contracts of Jakob Poeltl and Derrick White, the team announced in a press release. The club also exercised the $2.3MM option in Dejounte Murray’s contract for the season, as we noted earlier.

Poeltl was traded to the Spurs as part of a package featuring Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan in July, and is expected to provide depth in the frontcourt for San Antonio. His maturity and focus at the age of 22 has impressed Spurs’ staffers in his short time with the team.

Poeltl appeared in all 82 contests with the Raptors last season, holding per-game averages of 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 18.6 minutes. He was drafted with the No. 9 pick in 2016 after playing two collegiate seasons at Utah.

White, a 6’5″ combo guard who’s in his second NBA season, was selected by the Spurs with the 29th pick in 2017. He played just 17 games last season with the franchise, spending most of his time with the team’s G League affiliate Austin Spurs.

The Spurs have a cap charge of $3.7MM for 2019/10 by picking up Poeltl’s team option, and a separate charge of $1.9MM by exercising White’s option. Poeltl’s rookie contract is due to expire in 2020, while White has a fourth-year option for the 2020/21 campaign.

Southwest Notes: Poeltl, Okafor, Matthews, Batum

Jakob Poeltl is hoping an offseason trade to the Spurs will give him a better shot at playing time, relays Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl was an overlooked part of the deal that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, but the former first-round pick may find a greater opportunity to show off his skills with his new team. Poeltl describes himself as willing to do the “dirty work” and is thrilled about the opportunity with the Spurs.

“That is one of the things I am most excited about, just the fact that this program has such a big history of developing players,” Poeltl said. “Players that stay here or players that then go somewhere else and become really good players. So, I am really excited for the process. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am looking forward to it.”

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • In an Instagram post, Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor thanks Kevin Love for bringing mental health issues into the open last season. Okafor, who signed a partially guaranteed two-year deal earlier this month, displays a more toned body in the post, but states that he underwent a greater change on the inside. “I’ve learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety,” Okafor wrote. “Learning how to identify certain stressors has also allowed me to over come them. Often times because of my size and profession people may view me in a certain way, but in reality I deal with the same struggles as countless others.”
  • Trade speculation will continue to follow Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews in the upcoming season, according to a Dallas Morning News profile. At age 31 and entering the final year of his contract after opting in over the summer, Matthews could be expendable after the team assembled its backcourt of the future in the past two drafts.
  • The Rockets should consider gambling on Hornets forward Nicolas Batum, writes Rahat Huq of Forbes. Houston could use another strong wing defender after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, and Charlotte may be willing to take Ryan Anderson in return because Batum’s contract is even larger. Batum is owed more than $49.5MM over the next two seasons and has a $27.1MM player option for 2020/21.

Raptors, Spurs Finalize Leonard, DeRozan Trade

11:06am: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Spurs.

8:07am: The deal will send Leonard and Green to Toronto in exchange for DeRozan, Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick, league sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News first reported Green’s inclusion in the trade (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the 2019 first-round pick is protected from 1-20. If it doesn’t change hands after one year, it would turn into a pair of second-round picks instead.

The extra assets beyond Leonard and DeRozan look good for the Raptors, who will get to hang on their top two prospects in Anunoby and Siakam, and will only surrender a late first-rounder, at worst. Toronto will also add Green, a three-and-D wing who is a career 39.5% three-point shooter and is on a $10MM expiring contract.

Toronto will also create a modest trade exception equivalent to Poeltl’s $2.95MM salary in the deal.

7:15am: The Raptors and Spurs have reached an agreement in principle on a deal that will send Leonard to Toronto and DeRozan to San Antonio, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Woj, there are more pieces involved on both sides, and players are still being informed about the deal. A trade call with the NBA is expected to happen later today.

4:53am: The Raptors are finalizing a trade to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, Chris Haynes and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN report. San Antonio would receive a package headlined by DeMar DeRozan in the swap.

The Raptors and Spurs have been exploring such a trade for at least two weeks now, though Haynes adds that DeRozan was allegedly told during the Las Vegas summer league that he wouldn’t be dealt.

“Be told one thing & the outcome another,” DeRozan wrote in a story on his Instagram account early Wednesday morning. “Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.”

Neither Leonard nor DeRozan appears to be particularly pleased with the potential deal, with Haynes noting in a subsequent tweet that sources have told him that Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe tweets, Leonard would risk fines and possible forfeiture of his 2018/19 salary if he’s traded to the Raptors and doesn’t report to the team, unless he can provide a legitimate medical reason.

The two clubs are said to have discussed several packages and a deal could be agreed to in principle as early as today.

With Leonard eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, Raptors president Masai Ujiri is taking a substantial risk trading a committed All-Star for an outside player with eyes for Los Angeles. That said, the Thunder took a similar chance trading for Paul George last summer and it paid off when he re-signed long-term earlier this month.

Leonard, who has a 15% trade kicker, is set to earn approximately $23.1MM in 2018/19 (counting that trade bonus) before becoming eligible for free agency a year from now, so even if the Kawhi experiment doesn’t work, the Raptors could clear some long-term salary from their books in a deal. DeRozan will make $27.74MM annually for the next two years, with a player option worth the same amount in 2020/21.

Given the difference in salaries between the two stars, and the fact that the Spurs will likely receive another player or two in any deal, the Raptors may also take on another veteran to even out the ’18/19 money involved. Patty Mills ($11.57MM), Danny Green ($10MM), and perhaps even Pau Gasol ($16.8MM) would be candidates.

As we wrote yesterday, the supposed asking price for Leonard could be as high as an All-Star caliber player, high-potential young players, and draft picks. If DeRozan represents the first item on that list, it will be interesting to see what other pieces round out the offer. Toronto’s roster features a handful of intriguing young players, including OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl. The Raptors also control all their future draft picks.

At full health, a content, committed Leonard could easily justify such a substantial haul, but concerns about his quadriceps injury and his willingness to re-sign with a non-L.A. team trading for him may have diminished his value.

Although the Raptors have been prominently linked to Leonard of late, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports notes in his own story on the potential deal that the Lakers, Clippers, Sixers and Celtics were said to be suitors as well. On Tuesday, we learned that the Nuggets, Suns, Trail Blazers, and Wizards also talked to San Antonio about a possible trade.

Given that he was limited to just nine games last season, and didn’t look like his All-NBA self, it’s hard to gauge exactly what the Raptors might expect to see from Leonard on the court. Still, he’s just one year removed from back-to-back finishes as a top-three MVP candidate and a member of the All-NBA First Team.

Those All-NBA nods allowed Leonard to qualify for a Designated Veteran Extension worth 35% of the cap with the Spurs. By the time he officially became eligible to sign such an extension this week though, the star forward’s desire to leave San Antonio was well known, making a new deal with the Spurs an extreme long shot — even if the club was willing to offer it.

Leonard will lose his eligibility for that five-year super-max deal – worth an estimated $221MM – if he’s traded. If he’s sent to Toronto and becomes a free agent next summer, Kawhi would be eligible for up to five years and nearly $190MM with the Raptors or four years and $140.6MM with another team, based on current cap projections for 2019/20.

In nine seasons with the Raptors, DeRozan has averaged 19.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. The 28-year-old has been named an All-Star in four of the past five seasons and played an instrumental role in Toronto’s rise up the Eastern Conference ranks the past half decade.

Per Wojnarowski (via Twitter), a Spurs/Raptors swap has been close for a few days, but has nearly fallen apart multiple times. Ujiri wanted to let DeRozan know about the impending deal himself late last night, according to Woj, who adds that DeRozan and good friend Kyle Lowry talked a few hours ago.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Raptors Exercise Options On Wright, Poeltl, Siakam

The Raptors have exercised three team options for the 2018/19 season, announcing today in a press release that they’ve picked up Delon Wright‘s fourth year option, as well as third-year options for Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2018/19 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Wright, the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft, appeared in just 27 games for the Raptors last season, with Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph ahead of him on the depth chart for most of the year. However, with Joseph no longer on the roster, Wright figures to be in line for a larger role as he and Fred VanVleet back up Lowry. His fourth-year option for 2018/19 will count for $2,536,898 on Toronto’s cap.

Poeltl and Siakam, meanwhile, will also be relied upon for more significant roles this season. The two 2016 first-rounders didn’t play a ton as rookies last season, but the offseason departures of Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker, and DeMarre Carroll will open up more frontcourt minutes in the Raptors’ rotation.

Poeltl, last year’s ninth overall pick, has the most expensive 2018/19 option of the three, at $2,947,320. Siakam’s is worth $1,544,951. The Raptors will have to decide next offseason on fourth-year options for 2019/20 for the duo. If those are exercised, Poeltl and Siakam will become extension-eligible in the summer of 2019, and would be on track to be restricted free agents in 2020.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Thomas, Poeltl

Second-year big man Kristaps Porzingis knew early on that the Knicks weren’t going to be a competitive team this season, citing a lack of chemistry and teamwork. Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote about the sophomore’s troubling realization as the franchise finds itself staring at a 27-42 record.

I think it was pretty easy to tell from the inside that we’re not that good of a team,” Porzingis said of the Knicks. “We can win games based on our talent, but it’s not going to last long. [We needed] more work, attention to details, to keep growing as a team. A good team needs time to play together.”

The forward, whose averaged 18.0 points per game across 58 contests so far this season, acknowledged that the transition process can be difficult and that the Knicks did add several fresh faces like starting point guard Derrick Rose, but it was a disappointing year nonetheless.

Of course, we all expected big things out of this year, but from the beginning it didn’t feel like — I felt we’d make big runs, but we weren’t there at that level where we wanted to be,” Porzingis said. “We can see now we’re not where we want it to be.”

  • After a two-game hiatus, guard Isaiah Thomas is back in action for the Celtics, Chris Forsberg of ESPN tweets. The All-Star had been nursing a knee bruise. The 29.2 point-per-game scorer returns as the C’s sit 2.5 games back of the Cavaliers for the top seed in the East.
  • Though sparsely used for the majority of his rookie campaign, first-year big man Jakob Poeltl is earning the trust of Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “Every time you put him in, he does something positive,” Casey said. “There’s that trust, not only with myself but with his teammates. He’s doing positive things, he plays with physicality.” Poeltl has averaged 16.8 minutes per game in his last five contests.
  • Pressed to talk about the city of Los Angeles, Carmelo Anthony told the New York Post’s Marc Berman that he thinks L.A. is a relaxing place and that his family feels comfortable there. He also said, “Nah, don’t start, I haven’t thought about it,” though, so take it for what it’s worth. “I try not to think about it,” Anthony told the reporter. “Especially now when I’m still playing with the New York Knicks.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls 3/12/17

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

11:58pm:

5:00pm:

  • The Raptors have assigned Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam to the Raptors 905, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Poeltl and Siakam are just two of the 2016 first-round picks who were sent down to the D-League this season, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details.
  • The Mavericks have recalled Manny Harris and Jarrod Uthoff from the Texas Legends, according to a team press release. Dallas is about to embark on a 4-game road trip and each of the 15 players on the roster will make the journey, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets.
  • The Cavaliers have recalled Kay Felder from the Canton Charge, according to the team’s website. Felder has seen action in 37 games for Cleveland this year and he’s averaging 4.0 points per game

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Raptors, Oakley, Lin

Sixers center Joel Embiid claims he’s “more surprised than everybody else” how well this season has gone after he was sidelined two seasons by foot injuries. During the interview with ESPN Radio, Embiid admits he entertained thoughts of retiring during those lost seasons. “I was such in a dark place, I wanted to quit basketball,” Embiid said.  “I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind.” Embiid pines for the Rookie of the Year award, saying it would be validation for the sacrifices he made to get back on the court. He’s hopeful of returning soon after the All-Star break after missing the last 11 games with what he describes as a left knee bone bruise, though he reportedly has a partial meniscus tear.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The  Raptors do not want to part with young assets now that they’ve made a big move by acquiring power forward Serge Ibaka, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Toronto would prefer to hold onto Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira, Pascal Siakam, Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet, Smith continues. They could still package Jared Sullinger‘s expiring contract, a 2017 first-rounder and one of their backup point guards to make another move, Smith adds.
  • Charles Oakley doubts his issues with Knicks owner James Dolan will ever be resolved, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach relays via a Sports Illustrated interview. Despite a meeting with commissioner Adam Silver and Dolan earlier this week, Oakley is still fuming over his forcible removal from Madison Square Garden and arrest on February 8th.  “My life is going to change a lot because it’s just like getting a DUI sometime or going to jail for murder,” he told SI. “It’s something on my record. If you Google my name, it’s going to come up. And that hurts.”
  • Nets point guard Jeremy Lin is expected to return to action immediately after the All-Star break, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Lin practiced on Tuesday without any setbacks, according to NetsDaily.com. Lin’s season has been wrecked by hamstring woes. Signed to a three-year, $36MM contract last summer to be the team’s No. 1 point guard, Lin has appeared in just 12 games.

Raptors Notes: Ibaka, Ujiri, Biyombo, Powell

Power forward Serge Ibaka, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Magic, won’t be making his Raptors debut tonight, the team announced (Twitter link). Ibaka passed his physical and was available for the game, but Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet tweets that Toronto coach Dwane Casey decided to hold him out after today’s walkthrough, citing a hectic past 36 hours. Ibaka’s first game in a Raptors uniform will take place after the All-Star break on February 24th.

There’s more news out of Toronto:

  • The Ibaka deal raises the stakes for the Raptors, Grange writes in a full story. Ibaka fills an obvious need for Toronto and immediately becomes the organization’s most experienced postseason player. Grange calls it a risk-free trade and notes that Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira have made most of the starts at power forward this season after having a combined seven career starts coming into this year. “I think our team needed a boost, to be honest,” said team president Masai Ujiri“and we’re at that point where I think everybody knows, it’s not rocket science, that [a starting power forward] was a missing link on our team.”
  • Ibaka said he heard great things about Toronto from former Magic teammate Bismack Biyombo long before the trade took place, relays Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Biyombo spent last season with the Raptors before signing with Orlando in July. “He always told me stories,” Ibaka said. “… He loves it here.”
  • Second-year shooting guard Norman Powell can expect more playing time with Ross gone, according to Lewenburg (Twitter link). However, Casey wants Powell to concentrate more on defense and less on shooting than Ross did. Powell is averaging about 17 minutes and 7.2 points through 52 games.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/27/16

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Forwards Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough were recalled by the Nets after being assigned to Long Island earlier today for the D-League team’s game against Grand Rapids, the team announced in an email. Bennett had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while McCullough put up 15 points and nine rebounds.
  • The Raptors have recalled Jakob Poeltl, Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet from Raptors 905, according to The Toronto Sun. All three had been sent down to participate in Satuday’s game against Maine.
  • The Spurs assigned rookie guards Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes and Nicolas Laprovittola to Austin, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio News-Express. They are expected to be recalled in time for San Antonio’s game on Tuesday.
  • The Pelicans have recalled rookie forward Cheick Diallo from Austin, the team announced in an email. He has played six games in the D-League and just one for New Orleans.
  • The Mavericks recalled rookie center A.J. Hammons from the Texas Legends, according to an email from the team. He was assigned Saturday for a game against Salt Lake in which he scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.
  • The Bulls have recalled forward/center Cristiano Felicio and guards Jerian Grant and R.J. Hunter from their Windy City affiliate, the team announced in an email.