San Antonio Spurs: 3 Teams who might come after RFA Jakob Poeltl
By Ethan Farina
Feb 29, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) warms up as assistant coach Tim Duncan defends prior to the game against the Orlando Magic X in the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs might have to out-bid some competition to keep Poeltl
Two years after arriving in San Antonio as a part of the trade that brought DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs, Jakob Poeltl is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career. The Spurs young center has become one of the better young rim protectors in the league and is sure to draw interest from multiple teams.
Poeltl is one of the most impactful defensive players in the NBA. He finished eighth in the league in total blocks this year despite playing significantly fewer minutes than most of the players ranked higher than him. He also led the Spurs in defensive box plus/minus and was second on the team in defensive win shares added.
He’s an elite defensive player but his offensive game leaves quite a bit to be desired. He’s a smooth finisher inside, a solid pick and roll partner, and showcased some pretty slick passing ability. Unfortunately, he’s not much of a threat outside of the paint.
Teams will be willing to overlook a limited offensive game if they’re adding as good of a defender as Poeltl. And as he’s only valued at around $13 million per year, he’s one of the more affordable young big men in the 2020 free agent group.
The San Antonio Spurs might have some competition to sign Poeltl. He’s a restricted free agent so they can match any offer he receives but if the price starts to rise will they be willing to match? Here are a few teams they might have to compete against in order to re-sign their young center.
San Antonio Spurs might have to fend off Toronto Raptors to keep Poeltl
Don’t count out the Toronto Raptors as a potential suitor for Poeltl. Their two best big men are hitting the open market as well and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are predicted by many to be heading out the door.
If Gasol and Ibaka end up on other teams the Raptors are going to have a lot of minutes to fill In their frontcourt. One solution would be to come after Poeltl. He was drafted by Toronto and many of the players who were on the team with him are still there. I’m sure Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry would love to have him back and they sure could use his help.
The Raptors were contenders this year but they could be in a very different place by the time the ’20-21 season tips off. Gasol, Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet could all be on other teams and Terence Davis’s future is up in the air after his arrest last month. What better time to add a stabilizing and familiar presence than now?
Poeltl’s skill as a pick and roll player and familiarity with a fast-paced offense that relies heavily on ball movement would make him an excellent addition to the Raptors offense. Their style of play changes significantly depending on who is on the court but Poeltl can adapt fluidly to either style and remain a fixture in the middle.
Next: Charlotte Hornets
Feb 1, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) goes up for a shot in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs might have to compete with the Charlotte Hornets
At this point, it’s pretty well known that the Charlotte Hornets will be looking at big men in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. They haven’t had a solid presence in their frontcourt since Al Jefferson. That’s something that they could be able to fix through this year’s draft.
Even though they’ve got the third pick in the draft there is no certainty that James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu will be available at that point. Both the Warriors and the Timberwolves have been shopping their picks around and the list of suitors isn’t short. Even the Spurs could be looking to move up.
If they’re not able to add one of Wiseman or Okongwu, signing Poeltl isn’t a bad second option. He fits in the age as the rest of their young core and should be able to fit well in their frontcourt alongside PJ Washington.
Poeltl and the Hornets seem like a natural fit he fits exactly what they’re looking for and they’re one of the few teams on the market who can offer him the kind of salary and role that he’s looking for. He’s been adamant about looking for an increased role and he could reasonably step in as the Hornets starting center from day one.
If Charlotte isn’t able to add a top-end big man on draft night look for them to be players in free agency shortly thereafter.
Next: Detroit Pistons
Dec 1, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood (35) gets control of the ball against San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) and center Jakob Poeltl (25) during the second quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
The Detroit Pistons could look to pair Christian Wood and Jakob Poeltl
The number one priority for the Detroit Pistons this offseason is to retain Christian Wood. He broke out after they traded away Andre Drummond at the deadline and looks like he could be a real building block for them going forward.
After they’ve come to an agreement with Wood, don’t be surprised to see them turn their attention towards adding another big man. Jakob Poelt could be on their radar.
The Pistons got bullied in the paint on a regular basis last year. They gave up the fourth-most points in the paint in the entire NBA and currently don’t have a player on their roster who seems like they can be the answer to their problems.
Detroit could look to add a big man through the draft but this class is guard-heavy and the Pistons need to find their point guard of the future. If Okongwu and someone such as Killian Hayes are both available when the Pistons are picking seventh they might pause but it’s unlikely that Okongwu or Wiseman lasts that long.
Blake Griffin has expanded his game to be more of a perimeter player and Wood split his minutes between the two frontcourt positions for much of last season. Adding someone like Poeltl who could fit alongside either one of the two on offense while also adding the rim protection that the team desperately needs would be a great move for this rebuilding franchise.
Re-signing Jakob Poeltl should be a priority for the San Antonio Spurs but they won’t be the only team looking to sign him. If they’re serious about making him a piece of their future they’re going to have to fend off some competition.