Newly reacquired Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, an unrestricted free agent this summer, can envision himself signing a new contract with the team, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link).
“It’s definitely something I can see for the long-term as well,” Poeltl said of the Raptors.
Poeltl was initially selected by Toronto with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, but was dealt to the Spurs in 2018 as part of its package to acquire All-NBA small forward Kawhi Leonard.
He had since emerged as a terrific rim-protecting center for San Antonio and is expected to earn a significant salary upgrade this summer. In 47 games this season with the Spurs and Raptors, Poeltl is averaging 12.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 BPG and 0.8 SPG.
Having the 7’1″ big man on the roster broadens Toronto’s lineup options, contends Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Poeltl suited up for 17 minutes in his first game back with the Raptors, a 122-116 Friday loss to the Jazz. Smith writes that head coach Nick Nurse anticipates eventually shifting Poeltl into a starting role for the team.
“Hopefully he’s going to rim-protect, either with some shot-blocking or some vertical-type moves,” Nurse said. “Hopefully he’ll defensive rebound for us, too. We work pretty hard at defensive rebounding. There are guys that need to get involved in that. Hopefully he can take some of that load off our guys… He’s got a good IQ. That’s important, when a guy back there has some IQ and can direct traffic a bit.”
There’s more out of Toronto:
- Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. are both expected to turn down their respective player options for 2023/24, and instead enter 2023 free agency, writes Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Murphy looks ahead to how Toronto’s approach to the trade deadline could impact its approach to the 2023 offseason. Instead of becoming sellers at the deadline, as widely expected for the 26-31 Raptors, the team added Poeltl. Murphy thinks the Raptors can still look to offload contracts this summer, though he is dubious the team will get as much for its players during the offseason as it may have been able to extract at the deadline.
- Lewenberg opines in a separate piece that the Raptors were never likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, noting that Toronto was possibly open to accepting a trade for 25-year-old swingman OG Anunoby, but had been reticent to move off the contract of All-Star big man Pascal Siakam.
- Raptors president Masai Ujiri may have erred in wanting to let his current core of Siakam, Anunoby, VanVleet and 2022 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes play out the rest of the season, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen posits that the addition of Poeltl, while offering a defensive improvement around the rack, will not upgrade the club enough to return it to true contention this season.