Jakob Poeltl

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.”

Southwest Notes: Brunson, Rivero, Poeltl, Pelicans

Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson tells Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News that the NBA’s hiatus convinced him to have surgery to fix a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Brunson underwent the operation March 13, two days after the league shut down over coronavirus concerns. He was hoping to wait until after the season to address the shoulder, but the break gave him a reason to get it done right away.

“I truly was trying to get back and trying to finish the season out,” Brunson said. “But also in the back of my mind, I wasn’t putting surgery off and saying it wasn’t a possibility. The morning of the day the NBA shut down, we were talking about when I could get it done if I wanted to get it done — just hypothetically — and then that night is when everything started happening, so we said ‘Hey, let’s get it done ASAP.’ We didn’t know how long this was going to be, how long it was going to take.”

Brunson was averaging 8.2 PPG in his second NBA season before the injury sidelined him in late February. He’s rehabbing at home, but doesn’t expect to return this season no matter what happens when the league resumes play.

“As of right now, I think it’s ruled out,” Brunson said. “I think we’re just planning on next year’s training camp. That’s if everything is going along schedule. But as of right now, I’m just focusing on rehab and getting back to full strength.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks are keeping an eye on Cuban prospect Jasiel Rivero, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando from an original report by Chema de Lucas. The 27-year-old forward is averaging more than 9 points and 5 rebounds per game in the Champions League.
  • Spurs center Jakob Poeltl believes he has fully recovered from a right MCL strain that sidelined him for five days before the shutdown began, according to News4SanAntonio. Poeltl talked about his condition in an interview with Austria’s Die Presse, saying he believes he’ll be able to return whenever games resume. “Although I have no experience with knee injuries, I expect that I will have no problems if the season continues,” Poeltl said.
  • Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin thinks the culture change he wanted to bring in his first season with the Pelicans has been successful, writes Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “It’s fairly clear we’ve got really, really good, high-character humans here,” Griffin said. “The culture has changed a great deal for the better. I think players love being a part of what we’re building.”
  • The Pelicans have expressed interest in guard Elijah Bryant of Maccabi Tel Aviv, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Bryant, who turns 25 next week, played in Summer League the past two years with the Bucks and Sixers.

Jakob Poeltl Suffers Right MCL Sprain

Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl underwent an MRI on Sunday that revealed a right MCL sprain, the team announced in a press release. The injury will likely force Poeltl to miss multiple weeks of action.

No concrete timetable was issued by the team, but Poeltl wrote on social media that he expects to miss roughly two-to-four weeks.

“As today’s examination showed, I suffered a grade 2 MCL strain of the right knee,” he wrote. “I will presumably miss the next two to four weeks. Since knee injuries can be very severe, I’m happy that I didn’t sustain a more serious injury.

“Nevertheless, this is an annoying situation. We’re in the midst of a very important phase, which is why every missed game hurts twice as much. I hope to be back on the floor as soon as possible.”

Poeltl, 24, exited the team’s game on Saturday with a bruised right knee after playing just four minutes. He’s averaged 5.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 16.6 minutes in 58 games this season, starting in 10 of those contests.

The Spurs originally acquired Poeltl as part of the trade that landed Kawhi Leonard in Toronto and DeMar DeRozan in San Antonio back in 2018. The team is already playing without LaMarcus Aldridge, who is currently listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Poeltl was the No. 9 pick in 2016, showing capable talent on both ends of the floor at 7’1″. San Antonio is 3-7 in its last ten games and will host Indiana on Monday.

Trade Rumors: Clippers, Herro, LaVine, Poeltl, More

Chris Mannix of SI.com is among the latest reporters to weigh in this week on the Clippers‘ search for a center. According to Mannix, Los Angeles’ coaching staff has some concerns about the team’s rebounding. We heard on Monday that the Clips are also wary of facing star centers like Rudy Gobert or Nikola Jokic in the postseason.

Sources tell Mannix that there’s some interest within the Clippers’ front office in Tristan Thompson, whom the Cavaliers have put on the trade block. Mannix also names disgruntled Kings big man Dewayne Dedmon as a possible target, though he cautions that Dedmon wouldn’t be a preferred option for L.A.

The Clippers have Maurice Harkless‘ $11MM+ expiring contract available to use as a salary-matching piece for a trade target earning an eight-figure salary, but the team will have to be careful about how it fires that bullet. Acquiring a pricey center like Thompson or Dedmon using Harkless’ deal could take the team out of the market for a wing in the same salary range, such as Marcus Morris or Robert Covington.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Heat have told teams that Tyler Herro is unavailable at this time, according to Mannix. If Miami wants to do something major, Herro would likely be the first player a potential trade partner asks about, but the Heat have no interest in moving him.
  • The Bulls have received some trade feelers for Zach LaVine, but a source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) that the 24-year-old is “off-limits.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe said essentially the same thing on a podcast this week.
  • Teams are calling the Spurs to ask about Jakob Poeltl, but the asking price is believed to be too high, tweets Jabari Young of CNBC. Poeltl will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, so it’s possible San Antonio will lower its price by Thursday if the big man isn’t in the team’s long-term plans.
  • Nuggets power forward Juan Hernangomez is among the players of interest for the Rockets, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Denver is reportedly seeking a second-round pick for Hernangomez.

Lowe’s Latest: Redick, Bertans, Collins, Drummond, OKC, More

A number of players who have been mentioned as trade candidates this season may not be moved – or may not be available at all – at Thursday’s deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an article jam-packed with trade-related rumors and speculation.

For instance, teams who have called the Pelicans asking about J.J. Redick have been “shooed away,” sources tell Lowe. The Wizards have taken a similar approach to clubs inquiring on Davis Bertans, though Lowe notes that could change if Washington is offered something concrete that moves the needle more than a future first-round pick.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last week, teams have been monitoring John Collins in case the Hawks think about trading him, but there’s no indication Atlanta has interest in moving Collins “on any of the general terms being bandied about,” Lowe writes.

The Pistons‘ talks involving Andre Drummond aren’t entirely dormant, but it’s “far from a sure thing” that he’ll be moved, according to Lowe, who suggests that even if Detroit does make a deal, the return will likely be less than the team envisioned.

Meanwhile, the Thunder have been mentioned all season long as a potential seller, given their offseason moves and their veteran trade candidates. But the safest bet is that they stand pat with guys like Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Steven Adams, per Lowe.

As Lowe points out, the Thunder could still have leverage to make deals after the season, when Schroder and Adams will be entering contract years and Gallinari will be a prime sign-and-trade candidate. The Heat are among the teams to inquire on Gallinari this season, sources tell Lowe.

As noted above, Lowe’s latest ESPN piece is filled with many more trade rumors and notes. Here are several of the highlights:

  • Lowe confirms a previous report that the Nuggets and Heat are among the teams to express interest in Jrue Holiday. Lowe also names the Raptors as a club that would be an ideal fit for the Pelicans guard, but he has a hard time envisioning a deal involving any of those teams unless they’re willing to part with young players like Michael Porter Jr., Tyler Herro, or OG Anunoby, which seems unlikely.
  • The Pacers could probably net a first-round pick for backup guard Aaron Holiday, but haven’t shown any real interest in moving him, says Lowe.
  • The chatter about the Trail Blazers making a major win-now move has died down, sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, the Lakers have explored the Kyle Kuzma market and are eyeing several ball-handlers, including Kings swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has also received interest from the Hornets.
  • The Sixers don’t intend to include Matisse Thybulle in any deal and seem most likely to “tinker” around the edges of their roster, per Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies have asked for a first-round pick from teams inquiring on Jae Crowder, according to Lowe. However, he’d “bet heavily” against any potential trade partner meeting that price.
  • Lowe provides updates on both Morris brothers, suggesting that the Knicks “seem hell-bent” on keeping and re-signing Marcus Morris, and citing sources who say the Pistons could probably get a second-round pick for Markieff Morris.
  • A lot of teams have asked the Bucks about Sterling Brown, while Pistons youngsters Christian Wood and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk have also generated interest, according to Lowe, who thinks that Detroit is more likely to engage in talks on Wood than Mykhailiuk. Lowe also hears that a few clubs have “poked around” on Kings big man Harry Giles, and identifies Denzel Valentine (Bulls), Jakob Poeltl (Spurs), Marvin Williams (Hornets), and Malik Monk (Hornets) as other under-the-radar trade candidates to watch.

Hawks Notes: Poeltl, Free Agency, Young

The Hawks, who have been linked to centers like Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Dewayne Dedmon in recent weeks, also expressed trade interest in Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, reports Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report.

The Spurs typically don’t make many in-season trades and Poeltl hasn’t really been cited as a trade candidate this winter. Still, the Hawks may have been interested to know whether the former lottery pick is in San Antonio’s long-term plans, since he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. The 24-year-old center is averaging 5.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.4 BPG in a part-time role (17.6 MPG) for the Spurs this season.

While nothing may end up happening with Poeltl, the report is the latest indication that the Hawks are surveying the market for a center who could potentially fit in their frontcourt alongside John Collins.

Let’s round up some more items out of Atlanta…

  • Trae Young thinks the Hawks’ “exciting young players” will make prospective free agent targets seriously consider Atlanta in the offseason, as he tells Scotto. Multiple agents who spoke to Scotto agree that the Hawks will be a major player in free agency, though some pointed to the team’s significant cap room as the primary factor. “Every team that offers money would be considered,” one agent told Scotto. “An agent that says otherwise is just lying or stupid. They need to add quality veterans to help the young guys. Atlanta would be under consideration.”
  • In that same conversation with Scotto, Young said it’s still too early to judge the 2018 draft-night blockbuster between the Mavericks and Hawks, despite Luka Doncic‘s success in Dallas this season. “[Doncic’s] on a team, and they’ve got more veterans and is a team that’s more looking to win now,” Young said. “We’re more of a team that wants to win now, but we’re focusing more on developing, and we’re one of the youngest teams in the league. It’s just two totally different situations, so it’s just hard to really judge who won or lost [the trade] right now.”
  • Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has been patient since assuming control of the front office in 2017, biding his time as the club accumulates draft assets and young prospects. Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer takes a look at whether Schlenk can realistically maintain that patient approach going forward, with Atlanta’s roster in need of some help.