This win-now trade sees the Toronto Raptors bolster their frontcourt

Scottie Barnes #4 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Scottie Barnes #4 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have been in the market for a center for some time now and are in need of reinforcements. They are just 14-18 thus far this season, and ESPN’s Zach Lowe (subscription required) has reported that GM Masai Ujuri could be looking to make a big deal.

One player they’re targeting is San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, according to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer.

Poeltl was drafted by the Toronto Raptors and spent his first two seasons there before being traded to the Spurs. The Raptors have since tried to reacquire him, including at last season’s trade deadline. Of course, that trade didn’t happen, but they’ve continued to pursue him, though they have yet to meet the Spurs’ high asking price for Poeltl.

If the Raptors indeed want to bring him back, then they’ll have to meet the Spurs halfway, and there is a hypothetical trade that would work for both teams.

What could a Raptors-Spurs trade look like?

The Raptors have struggled shooting the ball this season, ranking 29th in 3-point shooting thus far, making them one of the worst half-court offenses in the NBA. Although Poeltl wouldn’t help with that, he would bring a number of other useful skills to the table. For one, Poeltl would give the already jumbo-sized Toronto Raptors even more size since he’s 7’2″ in shoes, and he effectively uses that size, particularly on defense.

While his defensive metrics have slipped this season, he generally ranks as one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. He’s also a terrific offensive rebounder, using his frame and length to snatch up extra possessions for his team. That would come in handy for the Raptors, with Poeltl helping them turn some of their bricks into putbacks or kicking it back out and allowing them to run another play.

The Spurs have gradually incorporated Poeltl more and more into their offense by playing to his strengths. For instance, he sets hard screens and has terrific hands, making him the ideal roll-man. Poeltl has even evolved into a playmaker and is often used in direct handoffs or to find cutters out of the high post.

In terms of cost, Birch and Flynn would need to be included to help offset salary. Additionally, they would have to give up a couple of picks (more on that in a moment), but the costs could prove to be well worth it for Toronto if he boosts their ceiling.

Would the Spurs agree to trade Jakob Poeltl to the Toronto Raptors?

As for the Spurs, it seems that they would prefer to hang on to Poeltl. In fact, they even have plans to pair him with Victor Wembanyama. Still, the Spurs are open to moving him and are seeking two lightly protected future first-round picks. The Raptors appear unwilling to part with multiple assets in exchange for Poeltl. But with a 14-18 record, they will need to do something drastic, and this could be the move they make, with some protections.

The Spurs’ asking price is admittedly high for a player who will be an unrestricted free agent after next season. In theory, that should lower his value, but several other teams have been linked to Poeltl in the last year.

If those teams still have interest, then that increases his value, plus any team that acquires him would have his bird rights, helping them retain him. As a result, the Raptors’ giving up their 2024 first and a top-14 protected first in 2026 appears to be a reasonable compromise. Poeltl is worth at least a good first-round pick, and even with him, the Raptors’ pick could end up in the low to mid-teens.

Additionally, if the Raptors opt for a rebuild, then they’d be able to keep their 2026 draft pick. On the other hand, if they remain competitive, then the Spurs would be able to add two more first-rounders to their already impressive 13-pick haul over the next seven seasons.

Next. It may be open season on Chicago Bulls trades. dark

Ultimately, the Raptors have the assets needed to make a big deal, and the Spurs have the player that they want. Since, the Raptors are both familiar with Poeltl and have traded with the Spurs twice in the last few seasons, increasing the chances of the two sides finding common ground.