A couple of weeks after Marc Stein reported the Raptors were seeking a reunion with the 7-1 center, there was more fuel added to the fire from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. "The Spurs have fielded numerous calls on the 26-year-old center and are seeking a strong return in any deal," said his report.
While the initial report about the Raptors appears to have fizzled down to nothing, it's not surprising that numerous teams are looking for a talent like Poeltl to fill their center position. When it comes to interior defense, you can't find a better value than Jakob to anchor that side of the court.
Even after missing eight games this season, Poeltl leads the league by far in total contested shots with 601. The next two on the list are Rudy Gobert with 561 and Evan Mobley with 515. His presence inside is noticeably effective every minute he's on the court, as he alters attempts just as often as he gets blocks.
When you look at the contracts of some of those other premier defenders in the league, Poeltl's contract looks like the biggest bargain in the NBA. Gobert is in the middle of a 5-year, $205 million extension signed in 2020. Myles Turner is making $18 million this year and another $18 million next season. Jakob is making $8.75 million this season and $9.4 million next year.
Jakob Poeltl's Value Extends Beyond His Contract
Because of the reasons I just outlined, I just can't see a scenario in which the Spurs let Poeltl go in a trade this season. Beyond the value he brings and his superior defense, he's also one of the best ball-screeners in the NBA, as shown by the 13 screen assists points he generates per game (2nd in the NBA).
The wording of Fischer's report is important here. They might be "fielding calls", meaning they're hearing teams out, but I can't see an offer blowing the Spurs away enough to get them to pull the trigger. Poeltl and Dejounte Murray have been this team's most consistent players all season and are only just getting into their pick-and-roll groove.
A "strong return" in this case would have to include multiple valuable draft picks and some promising talent just to get the Spurs to the table. I just can't see that happening.