The Toronto Raptors are starting to kick their trade pursuits into high gear, as Gary Trent Jr. is being shopped all around the league. While he could be traded away to avoid having to pay him a gigantic contract in free agency, Trent is arguably having the best season of his career.
Trent has averaged 18.2 points in his Raptors career while standing out as one of the few shooters on a team that has been painfully inefficient from beyond the 3-point range. The lack of shooting is hard to watch, but so is some pitiful rim protection that has contributed to an underwhelming defense.
The Raptors could be in the mood to acquire a high-end center in the trade market, with Spurs shot-blocker Jakob Poeltl (whom Toronto drafted No. 9 overall and subsequently flipped in the Kawhi Leonard trade) firmly in their crosshairs. Masai Ujiri appears to b stepping up his pursuit of his beloved former draftee.
According to SpursTalk.com (who was dead on in calling the Dejounte Murray trade), the Raptors and Spurs are currently engaged in talks that could bring Poeltl to Toronto. While the Raptors have multiple offers on the table, the one with the most traction is a three-team trade with an unknown party that sends Trent away.
Will the Toronto Raptors trade for Jakob Poeltl?
The Poeltl move is a bit surprising, considering how Toronto is starting to move closer to retooling than competing for a play-in spot. Poeltl will be a free agent at the end of this season, and it would be very surprising if they manage to retain him with a contract close to nine figures.
However, Poeltl proves a major shot in the arm on defense, as the team’s rim protection remains an area of concern. Poeltl has averaged 13.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game over the last two seasons, which exceeds what Toronto has gotten from their traditional centers in that span.
Poeltl will be expensive, but he won’t cost $25 million per season like many expect Trent to be. While the Raptors would get even worse offensively due to their lack of shooting, Poeltl would be a humungous Band-Aid on one of the team’s most sore spots over the last few seasons.
The Raptors know all too well the skills that Poeltl brings to the table, and the idea of reuniting with the Austrian big could be a lovely story. However, any trade that ends up with Poeltl back in Canada only can come as a result of Ujiri making a very aggressive move that includes moving some draft capital.