The San Antonio Spurs are being shameless about the fact they plan on tearing everything down and building from scratch, opting to lose every game in the 2022-23 NBA season. The best way to do that is to trade away your best player, who is now center Jakob Poeltl.
One team that might be interested in landing Poeltl would be the Utah Jazz, who just moved three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to Minnesota in exchange for a massive haul of picks and players.
I’ve always thought of Poeltl as a poor man’s Gobert. He is not on the same level defensively but offers a similar offensive game and is certainly an above-average rim protector. While it is laughable to think Poeltl would fetch the same price as Gobert, the Jazz have the resources to make it happen.
The Spurs would have to take on an expensive contract or at least one comparable to Jakob’s in order to make it work. The only reason the Jazz would make any trade like this is if they believe that they can contend. Although as long as they have Donovan Mitchell, I don’t think that’s out of possibility.
The first trade results in fewer draft capital coming to San Antonio, but they would have money to spend as soon as next season. By taking Patrick Beverley off of Utah’s hands, the Jazz could make an offer at a middle-tier free agent this season and add Jakob to the party, locking down the paint and running the pick and roll with Mitchell.
In return, the Spurs get another first-round pick in next year’s loaded draft and find themselves a serviceable point guard for a season who I am sure would be a great mentor for Tre Jones and Josh Primo. Instantly, it would make Utah better and San Antonio could continue to hoard picks.
The second trade is less favorable for San Antonio signing a long-term free agent, but it allows them to rack up even more picks, as the Timberwolves are now all-in, so the 2025 picks should convert.
Rudy Gay is under contract for two full seasons, so the Spurs would have to shell out $6 million a year to bring back the aging vet. When fans wanted to win, Gay was a plague on the roster, but now that the tank is in full swing, why not?
Gay was a valuable piece to the Jazz off the bench last season, but with Jarred Vanderbilt coming to town by way of Minnesota, I think the Jazz have upgraded at small forward and can afford to let Gay leave.
Two firsts is a steep price for Poeltl, so if the Spurs are offered anything like this, they should be all over it. Hopefully, Rudy Gay would not take up Keldon Johnson’s minutes as he did two years ago, but if the organization is committed to losing, then this is not the worst-case scenario, either.
If the Spurs are offered any draft capital for Poeltl, they should take it. After Gobert was shipped out, Poeltl is a hot commodity around the league as a defensive stopper.
The Jazz make sense as a suitor, however, because they are still under the impression they can make some noise, and adding Poeltl to the roster could be the way to do it.