Jakob Poeltl

Atlantic Notes: Dowtin, Queta, Melton, Poeltl, Barnes, Rajakovic

The new deals signed by Jeff Dowtin with the Sixers and Neemias Queta with the Celtics are two-way contracts with second-year team options for 2024/25, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter links).

Both Dowtin and Queta were on two-way deals before promoted to their respective teams’ 15-man rosters, and both players received minimum-salary contracts.

Here are more notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton, who has been sidelined since February 27 due to back issues and has only played five games since the calendar turned to 2024, has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Detroit, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. While Melton’s comeback efforts have flown somewhat under the radar, overshadowed by Joel Embiid‘s recent return, it would be a major boost for the 76ers if they can get the versatile guard back in action before the postseason tips off.
  • Asked on Sunday about Jakob Poeltl‘s and Scottie Barnes‘ recoveries from hand surgeries, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic told reporters that although neither player has formally been ruled out for the season, he’s not counting on either one returning this week (Twitter links via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca and Michael Grange of Sportsnet). Both Poeltl and Barnes continue to go through the ramp-up process — even if they’re not back in action in the coming days, the goal is to get them in the best possible shape heading into the offseason.
  • In a pair of stories for The Athletic, Eric Koreen considers what we can learn from Rajakovic’s first year as the Raptors‘ head coach and hands out his end-of-season awards, including naming Poeltl the most underappreciated Raptor of 2023/24.

Raptors Notes: Porter, Quickley, Barrett, Barnes, Poeltl

In the wake of news that Jontay Porter is being investigated by the NBA following multiple instances of betting irregularities, his Raptors teammates discussed the issue with reporters in general terms on Monday night, with Garrett Temple (an NBPA vice president) stressing that nothing has been proven yet, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

While Raptors players weren’t willing to speculate or go into much detail about Porter’s situation specifically, they spoke about the impact that the increasing popularity – and legality – of sports betting has had on them. Forward Jordan Nwora said that “people bet on silly things on a daily basis” and that players hear about it “non-stop” when they don’t reach certain benchmarks.

“(Hearing from fans) has been a part of it for probably the past two or three years,” Raptors wing Ochai Agbaji added. “And fans, you know, slamming you for not hitting their bet, that’s an every night thing for every single one of us in this locker room.”

The widespread legalization of sports betting is a fairly recent development, which the NBA and other major sports leagues are still learning how to navigate. Temple acknowledged the venue that gambling brings in is significant, while also pointing out that it’s a bit “awkward” to have major betting outlets serving as NBA sponsors.

“You watch a game, and you may see FanDuel or DraftKings as a big-time sponsor for a team, but obviously it’s illegal for us to (bet on) any type of professional basketball … we understand that,” Temple said. “Sports betting has always been around, it just obviously is even more available. But as players, you don’t really think about it. As a veteran, I don’t really think about it as much because (not betting on basketball) has always been a rule. It’s not as if a rule change happened. So it is awkward but at the same time, like I say, we understand what we’re getting ourselves into.”

Here’s more on Porter and the Raptors:

  • DraftKings wasn’t the only sportsbook to get significant action on Porter prop bets on the dates the NBA is looking into, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and David Purdum (Twitter link). A source tells ESPN that multiple bettors attempted to wager significant amounts (“upwards of $10-20K”) on Porter unders for that January 26 game that the forward left early due to what the team said was an aggravation of his eye injury.
  • Adam Laskaris of Daily Hive takes a deep dive into Porter’s social media history, detailing how the Raptors forward maintained an account under the moniker “TayTrades11” to share financial advice and noting that he promoted a college basketball parlay bet at least once. There’s no indication that any of that activity was illegal or prohibited by league rules, but I imagine the NBA will take a close look at the account as part of its probe.
  • Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, who have both been away from the Raptors for personal reasons, participated in Tuesday’s practice and are considered day-to-day, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, both players will remain sidelined for Wednesday’s game vs. their former Knicks team as they ramp up their conditioning, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).
  • Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl, who are both recovering from hand surgeries, are doing a bit of light on-court work but haven’t been cleared for contact, Lewenberg adds, tweeting that it’s still up in the air whether either player will return this season.
  • With the Raptors dealing with a series of injuries on the court and various challenges off of it – including the investigation into Porter and the recent death of Barrett’s brother – Kelly Olynyk looked to find a silver lining in what has been a “really tough” stretch. “A lot of guys are getting opportunities here that they may not have gotten (elsewhere),” Olynyk said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “I hope that they’re seizing those opportunities and taking advantage of them to the best of their abilities, and hopefully they can parlay it into something for them that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do (elsewhere).”

Raptors Notes: Boucher, Olynyk, Poeltl, Quickley, Banton

Entering Thursday’s contest in Phoenix, Raptors big man Chris Boucher hadn’t played more than 12 minutes in a game since January. However, he scored 11 points in nearly 24 minutes of action vs. the Suns, and after Toronto quickly fell behind by double-digits in the opening minutes in Portland on Saturday, another opportunity emerged for Boucher, who helped lead a fourth-quarter comeback that sent the game to overtime

Although the Raptors ultimately lost the game, Boucher finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots in a season-high 31 minutes. Speaking to reporters later in the night, Boucher said that head coach Darko Rajavkoic has been open with him as his minutes have fluctuated this season, adding that he understands why his role hasn’t been consistent.

“We talk. He knows me and knows what I can bring and all,” Boucher said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “Sometimes things don’t go the way you want. The team’s had a lot of changes and I got caught in the middle. I know they know what I’m able to do, and everyone knows that I can change the game and all. I don’t think anyone thinks I can’t play, it’s about more than me.”

Boucher is under contract with the Raptors for one more season beyond this one, with a $10.81MM guaranteed salary for 2024/25. However, it’s possible – especially following last month’s acquisition of Kelly Olynyk – that he’ll emerge as a trade candidate this summer.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • From a team-building perspective, the Raptors might prefer that their top two centers – Jakob Poeltl and Olynyk – were a little younger, but having those two veterans under contract for at least the next two seasons gives the club some certainty and stability at the position, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who notes that the team will be able to focus its efforts and resources on upgrading other positions.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Koreen highlights Immanuel Quickley‘s recent strong play, writing that the guard is increasing his price tag ahead of restricted free agency. In nine games since the All-Star break, Quickley is averaging 21.8 points, 8.1 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per contest while making 43.0% of his three-point attempts.
  • Former Raptor Dalano Banton helped lead the Blazers to a victory on Saturday, racking up 25 points in 42 minutes against his old team. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets, one of Masai Ujiri‘s gripes about the previous coaching staff was that it didn’t do enough to develop its young players, including Banton. With that in mind, it was a little surprising that Toronto didn’t do more last summer to retain Banton – who could have been a restricted free agent if the Raptors had given him a qualifying offer – in order to see how he might’ve developed under Rajakovic, Lewenberg observes.

Jakob Poeltl Undergoes Finger Surgery

Raptors center Jakob Poeltl has undergone surgery to repair a ligament tear in the fifth finger of his left hand, the team announced late on Tuesday night in a press release. The injury occurred in the second quarter of Sunday’s victory over Charlotte.

The Raptors didn’t provide any sort of recovery timeline for Poeltl, simply stating that his status will be updated as appropriate.

Any type of finger surgery typically results in a multi-week absence, and while the big man could end up being healthy enough to play before the end of the season, Toronto is falling out of the postseason race and may simply decide to shut him down.

After getting blown out at home by the Pelicans on Tuesday, the Raptors are 4.5 games back of the No. 10 seed in the East. They’re also missing Scottie Barnes, who underwent a hand surgery of his own earlier this week and might not be back before the end of the regular season.

Poeltl, who was acquired from San Antonio by the Raptors at the 2023 trade deadline, signed a four-year, $78MM contract with the club during the offseason. In his first season back with the Toronto team that originally drafted him in 2016, the 28-year-old averaged 11.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 26.4 minutes per game across 50 appearances (all starts).

The Raptors traded for another veteran center – Kelly Olynyk – at this season’s deadline and extended him this week, but that deal shouldn’t have a real impact on Poeltl’s future in Toronto, since the two big men have different skill sets. While Olynyk excels at stretching the floor, Poeltl serves as a pick-and-roll partner for the team’s guards and is more of a rim protector on defense.

Atlantic Notes: Hartenstein, Raptors, Springer, Muscala

Isaiah Hartenstein earned some extra money on top of his base salary on Thursday. The Knicks center surpassed 1,350 minutes this season, which triggered a $350K bonus, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

The bonus had been deemed likely and was included in his cap hit for 2023/24 since the Knicks big man met the same minutes benchmark in ’22/23. Hartenstein has a base salary of approximately $8.2MM, along with $1.05MM in likely bonuses.

The Knicks hold Early Bird rights on Hartenstein, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. New York can offer him a multiyear contract with a starting salary of up to $16MM.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors can feel cautiously optimistic about their lineup, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen opines, since Immanuel Quickley, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., RJ Barrett and Jakob Poeltl are playing well together. The only hitch is that Trent will be an unrestricted free agent, though Gradey Dick might be ready to take that spot. They could also use a defensive specialist on the wing, Koreen adds.
  • Jaden Springer didn’t anticipate getting traded at this stage of his career, he admitted to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was dealt from the Sixers to the Celtics earlier this month. “I wasn’t expecting that,” the 2021 first rounder said. “But I [didn’t] really think about it too much. It happened, and I was OK with moving on to the next thing. I’m here [in Boston] now, and that’s what I’m really focused on.” Sixers exec Daryl Morey didn’t view Springer as a rotation player in the postseason for the next few seasons, Mizell explains, which is why he was shipped out for an asset — a 2024 second-rounder — that could potentially be flipped for a veteran role player.
  • The Celtics are eligible to sign Mike Muscala but it doesn’t seem likely, Brian Robb of Masslive.com writes. Muscala was bought out by the Pistons this week after he was acquired in a trade with Washington in mid-January. However, teams like the Knicks and Sixers would appear to be better fits, given that Muscala could get immediate playing time in their frontcourts. Boston would not be able to offer him any regular minutes while the team is healthy, and the C’s added a big man at the trade deadline in Xavier Tillman.

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Pistons, Bulls, Bridges, Mavs, Kuzma, Brown, Knicks, More

Appearing on SportsCenter late on Wednesday night (Twitter video link), Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said the Sixers and Pistons have had recent trade discussions about players like Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic, but that those talks “largely broke down” on Wednesday.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sixers and Pistons won’t reengage on Thursday, but Philadelphia is exploring several avenues in search of size and shooting. The 76ers have also talked to the Bulls about multiple players, including DeMar DeRozan, Wojnarowski stated on the latest episode of the Woj Pod.

The challenge in trading with the Bulls, Woj explains, is that they want to remain competitive this season, so they’re not looking to sell off starters or key rotation players for draft assets. Given that position, it may be difficult for a contender to make more than a minor deal with Chicago, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) believes Philadelphia is the potential trade partner worth keeping the closest eye on for the Bulls.

Besides DeRozan, Andre Drummond is another Bulls player who has reportedly drawn interest from the Sixers. Chicago may take its Drummond talks down to the wire, according to Marc Stein, who says in his latest Substack story that the club could command multiple second-round picks for the veteran center.

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

  • Wojnarowski also indicated during his SportsCenter appearances that forward Miles Bridges is “very, very likely” to remain in Charlotte beyond the trade deadline, with the Hornets hoping to re-sign him this offseason. Stein (Substack link) has also heard that Bridges may very well stay put, despite interest from the Suns and a handful of other clubs. The 25-year-old has the ability to veto a trade and would lose his Bird rights if he approves a move to a new team.
  • According to Wojnarowski (via the Woj Pod), the Mavericks‘ efforts to pry Kyle Kuzma away from the Wizards haven’t been successful, so Dallas is believed to be pivoting to P.J. Washington and will likely keep talking to the Hornets on Thursday. Stein suggests that Kuzma’s preference has been to stay in D.C. rather than seek a change of scenery, which has been a factor in Washington’s apparent reluctance to move him.
  • The Knicks have been willing to attach a first-round pick to Evan Fournier‘s expiring contract in a trade offer for Raptors wing Bruce Brown, but they want to include one of their 2024 first-rounders (their own or Dallas’), reports Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto, which already controls at least two first-rounders and a high second-rounder in a 2024 draft considered to be weak, has sought a future pick, but New York wants to preserve those selections for a potential deal for a star, Grange explains.
  • Some teams have kicked the tires on Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, Grange reports, though he looks like a long shot to be moved. Although Dennis Schröder is a more likely trade candidate, Grange hears from a league source that the return for the veteran point guard would probably just be second-round picks at best.

Raptors Notes: Young, Poeltl, Quickley, Barrett, Gasol

Filling in at small-ball center with Jakob Poeltl sidelined with a sprained ankle, Raptors forward Thaddeus Young had perhaps his best game of the 2023/24 season in Tuesday’s victory over his former team, the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

At 35 years old and in his 17th NBA season, Young finished with 16 points (on 8-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes while battling traditional centers in Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond. Young had only made seven cameo appearances this season prior to Poeltl’s injury, but has appeared in 11 straight games since.

They’re two big guys who know how to rebound, very physical,” Young said of Vucevic and Drummond. “Takes a toll on you. But one thing I’m willing to do is fight with them and do the job that’s needed to be done. For me, it’s always about the battle. I enjoy the competition level. So for me, I’m willing to take whatever challenge there is, whether it’s me guarding guards, guarding my position or playing center.

I don’t pay too much attention to that. Yeah, I’m 35 years old. But that’s young in regular life. When you play over 1,000 basketball games, that’s old to everybody else. But I just continue to play and show that I can play at a high level. As long as I’m able to do that, I’ll continue to play.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Young has drawn praise from his head coach and teammates for his leadership, professionalism, diligent work ethic, and ability to produce when called upon, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. The longtime veteran says his family has pushed him to play for a few more years, but he plans to discuss his future with them again when the time comes. Young is playing on expiring $8MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. “As the years go by, (TJ, Young’s oldest son) gets older (13), and I definitely want to start putting a lot of time and work into him, making sure that I give him the same opportunities I had,” Young said, per Koreen. “This is something I have to sit down with my family and talk about. They’ve been saying, ‘Go to Year 20. You can do it.’ Physically, yeah, I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong. I’m healthy, I can continue to go. But at that point, it’s just a matter of how much longer I want to play.”
  • Poeltl has missed the past 11 games with the ankle sprain, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca says the Austrian big man’s return is “likely imminent,” noting that the former No. 9 overall pick has been full speed in workouts for nearly a week. Poeltl has shown his value to Toronto in part because the team has struggled mightily without him — as Grange observes, the Raptors are just 2-9 without Poeltl this season.
  • In another story for The Athletic, Koreen writes that Poeltl’s injury has made it difficult for the new-look roster to jell. The Raptors want Immanuel Quickley, who has missed the past three games with a quad injury, to develop chemistry with Poeltl, but they’ve only played four games together thus far. Another new addition, RJ Barrett (knee swelling), has also missed the past two games. Poeltl and Quickley were full practice participants on Thursday, but Barrett did not do contact work (Twitter link via Koreen). The Raptors’ next game is Friday in Houston, and all three players are currently considered questionable, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Marc Gasol officially retired on Wednesday, prompting Raptors vice chairman and president Masai Ujiri to release a statement regarding the longtime veteran center, who started for Toronto when the team won the championship in 2019. “Marc has a special place in the hearts and memories of Toronto and of Canada,” Ujiri said. “He’s a champion on the court, where his unbelievable vision and masterful defense were key parts of our run to the 2019 title. He’s a champion in life too, with important contributions to communities around the world through the Gasol Foundation. He’s a three-time All-Star, first team All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time Olympic silver medalist and, I believe, undisputed winner of best performance in the history of championship parades. Marc, the Raptors honor your grit and grind and we send you and your family our thanks and our best, warmest wishes for a happy retirement.”

Trade Rumors: Gafford, Grimes, Wizards, Raptors, Jazz, Bridges

The Wizards are among the teams with interest in Knicks wing Quentin Grimes, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who also confirms that Washington center Daniel Gafford remains on New York’s radar. A report a couple weeks ago indicated that the Knicks had inquired on Gafford.

With Isaiah Hartenstein playing well in a starting role, Precious Achiuwa and Jericho Sims providing depth at the five, and Mitchell Robinson possibly on track to return before the season is over, the Knicks might already be set up front.

However, Robinson’s return this season isn’t a certainty and Hartenstein has missed the past two games with an injury of his own (left Achilles tendinopathy), so it sounds as if the Knicks haven’t ruled out the possibility of pursuing another frontcourt player. Still, if Hartenstein is back in the lineup within a week or so and feels good, I wouldn’t expect a center – especially one like Gafford, who wouldn’t be cheap – to be a focus at the deadline.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

Raptors Notes: Poeltl, Deadline Primer, Trade Tiers, Quickley

Raptors center Jakob Poeltl was able to go through portions of Wednesday’s practice but he still hasn’t been cleared for contact work, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Head coach Darko Rajakovic said Poeltl is working on his conditioning after being out since January 7 with a left ankle sprain, and the Austrian big man is considered day-to-day.

Toronto reacquired Poeltl last February, when the team sent out its 2024 first-round pick (top-six protected) to San Antonio. Poeltl, who has averaged 10.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.4 BPG in 36 games this season, re-signed with the Raptors on a four-year, $78MM deal last summer.

The roster looks a lot different now than it did last year, with veterans Fred VanVleet (signed with Houston in free agency), OG Anunoby (traded to New York) and Pascal Siakam (traded to Indiana) all on new teams. Poeltl said it was difficult to see Siakam go, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link).

“It was tough because he was the guy I was closest to on this team,” Poeltl said of Siakam. “… I guess I was mentally prepared for it a little bit already because there were so many rumors… but it’s still really sad for me to basically lose my best friend on the team.”

With Toronto now focused on developing its young players rather than competing for a playoff spot, Lewenberg asked Poeltl if the team’s change of direction made him question the decision to re-sign or ponder his future with the Raptors (Twitter link).

Not necessarily,” Poeltl said. “The only thing that was important to me is that I was on a team that could play competitive basketball. As long as it’s not a team that was really actively trying to tank, I guess, was the thing for me. Like, I want to play on a team that’s trying to win every night.

So, for me, even though had some changes and we lost some really good players, I think we’re still on a course where we’re trying to build around this team right now and were not hunting for a No. 1 draft pick, you know what I mean? So as long as that’s the case, I think I’m going to be happy here and I’m hoping to contribute to this new Raptors team, this new project that we’re starting.”

Here’s more on the Raptors, who are currently 16-28 after dropping seven of their past eight games:

  • On a related topic, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca wonders if fans should be cheering for the Raptors to lose for the remainder of 2023/24 in order to keep their first-round pick. As previously mentioned, Toronto will only keep the pick if it lands in the top six of the upcoming draft; in that scenario, the Spurs would be owed the Raptors’ 2025 first-rounder, with the same top-six protection. On the other hand, Grange notes that the 2025 draft is viewed by scouts and executives as having more top-end talent compared to 2024; the No. 7 or No. 8 pick in ’25 could be end up being quite a bit more valuable than a top-six pick this year.
  • Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca recently released a trade deadline primer that covers Toronto’s cap situation, draft assets, player assets, exceptions, restrictions (newly acquired players can’t be aggregated with other salaries), and more.
  • The only “untouchable” player on Toronto’s roster is Scottie Barnes, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who believes the third-year forward will sign a rookie scale max extension this summer. Koreen also thinks “it would be aggressively weird” if RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Gradey Dick, Jordan Nwora or Kira Lewis were traded. Veterans like Bruce Brown, Gary Trent Jr., Dennis Schröder, Chris Boucher and Poeltl fall into Koreen’s “Selling with hopes of a return” trade tier, though he doesn’t think Poeltl will actually be moved.
  • Starting guard Quickley has been ruled out for Friday’s contest with the Clippers due to a thigh bruise, Murphy tweets. Quickley, acquired from New York in the Anunoby deal, is averaging 16.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 6.1 APG through 12 games (31.8 MPG) as a Raptor. The 24-year-old will be traveling on the upcoming six-game road trip, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (Twitter link), which suggests it may be a short-term injury.

Atlantic Notes: Hartenstein, Poeltl, Martin, Maxey

Center Isaiah Hartenstein could miss some time due to soreness in his left foot and ankle, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets. The Knicks will see how he feels on Tuesday before determining his status for their matchup with the Nets. He’s listed as questionable due to Achilles tendinopathy.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said Jericho Sims and Precious Achiuwa will need to step in if Hartenstein misses any time (Twitter link via Knicks Videos). Julius Randle or OG Anunoby could also get minutes at center if Thibodeau is willing to use smaller lineups.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors center Jakob Poeltl is progressing well in his recovery from an ankle injury, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Poeltl didn’t play against Memphis on Monday but the Raptors are hoping to have him back “very, very soon,” according to coach Darko Rajakovic. Poeltl hasn’t played since Jan. 7.
  • The Sixers have made swingman KJ Martin available on the trade market, Marc Stein reports in his latest notebook. Philadelphia is looking for a quality second-round pick in a potential deal. Martin has struggled for playing time on a veteran-laden team. He has appeared in 25 games this season but is only averaging 5.9 minutes in those outings. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • By starting 41 games this season, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has met the starter’s criteria, bumping his qualifying offer to $8,486,620, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. For a player at Maxey’s level, the increase of his QO isn’t significant, since he’s widely expected to receive a max contract from Philadelphia in lieu of exploring the restricted free agent market.