Raptors acquire Jakob Poeltl from Spurs
San Antonio is receiving centre Khem Birch, a protected 2024 first-round pick and two future second-round picks in return.
The Toronto Raptors reunited with a familiar face early Thursday morning when they acquired centre Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio is receiving centre Khem Birch, a protected 2024 first-round pick and two second-round picks in return. The first-round pick is top-six protected through 2026, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, while the second-rounders fall in 2023 and '25.
Poeltl was drafted by the Raptors ninth overall in 2016 but was traded to San Antonio in the deal that sent Kawhi Leonard north of the border in the summer of 2018. Toronto had expressed interest in reacquiring its former lottery pick for over a year.
From a personnel standpoint, Poeltl shores up Toronto's centre position, which has been a team weakness for the past several years. The 27-year-old is averaging 12.1 points, nine rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while logging 26 minutes nightly. He is very efficient with his offensive touches, shooting better than 61 percent from the floor.
In addition to his on-court fit, Poeltl also figures to slide in seamlessly in the locker room. He was drafted in the same year as Pascal Siakam, and the two developed a close friendship during their time as teammates.
Poeltl is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of 2022-23 as he plays out the final season of a three-year, $26.25-million deal he signed with the Spurs in November of 2020. The 26-30 Raptors aren't exactly a championship contender this season, so they likely view Poeltl as an extension candidate.
The native of Austria won't have to travel far to join his new team, as the Raptors and Spurs ironically faced one another on Wednesday. Poeltl had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the contest as Toronto defeated San Antonio 112-98.
“We loved him when he was here," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of Poeltl before Wednesday's game. "Just a really good, smart, tough, hard worker.”
Birch's time with the Raptors was plagued by injuries and the 30-year-old struggled to find consistent minutes even when healthy. He looked like a solid piece when he was first acquired from the Orlando Magic during the 2020-21 campaign, but is averaging just 2.2 points in 20 games this year. The Canadian has one more year remaining on his contract and will earn a hair under $7 million in 2023-24.
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