The San Antonio Spurs have fully committed to the rebuild, trading former icon and current villain Dejounte Murray to Atlanta and signing Keldon Johnson to a team-friendly extension. The Spurs will be carried this season by Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Josh Primo to an almost certain top-five pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and have amassed enough picks to find enough role players -- and a star -- to bolster their roster.
One name I haven't seen yet mentioned in serious trade talks is Jakob Poeltl. The Austrian big had a career year last season, posting career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. The Spurs should cash in on Poeltl while his value is high, and Sports Illustrated thinks the Chicago Bulls could be a willing trade partner.
The Spurs and Bulls made a deal last season, sending DeMar DeRozan to the Windy City for Thaddeus Young and picks. The mock trade has the Spurs sending Poeltl out and getting Coby White, Marko Simonovic, and a 2024 first-round pick from the Trail Blazers.
This trade is a home run for both teams and earns a solid A
The Chicago Bulls desperately need some interior help on defense. Nikola Vecevic is the 25th-best defensive center according to FiveThirtyEight (playing at least 1000 minutes), but the Bulls could use some depth at center. Recent signing Andre Drummond won’t cut it.
The Bulls have to give up potential star Coby White, but he is lost in the ball-dominant rotation of Lonzo Ball, Ayo Dosumo, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine. He has averaged 13.7 points in his three seasons and is only 21 years old. If he doesn’t pan out, he adds some competition in the backcourt between himself, Primo, Tre Jones, and Blake Wesley. If he does pan out, he could be a solid bench piece and sixth man for many years to come.
Based on his nine career NBA games, I do not think that Marko Simonovic will have much of a career. As a 22-year-old rookie, he did not shine in Chicago, and a change of scenery is not enough to improve him.
The real gem of the trade is the first-round pick. Portland will probably be a fringe playoff team by 2024, so the Spurs add a 10-20 pick in the draft. Poeltl alone is probably worth a mid-first-round pick, so getting a solid guard piece added in is a bonus.
The Bulls desperately need a player like Poeltl to compliment their offensive weapon in Vucevic. The Spurs get to add youth and a pick and don't even have to take a bad contract to do that, as Simonovic is owed $1,563,518 next year, and his 2023-24 season is not guaranteed.
It’s not often that a mock trade hits it out of the park, but this one sure does.