The Toronto Raptors’ disappointing tailspin doesn’t end anytime soon. They have a big offseason ahead of them with a vacant head coaching position, a lottery selection to make, and free agency to improve upon their lackluster season.
Coming into the season, Toronto knew they had two key rotation players about to hit free agency with Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet expected to decline their player options and receive big paydays. The Raptors’ deadline deal to bring back their former top-10 selection Jakob Poeltl adds a third key free agent to the fold.
With their 2024 pick to the Spurs being so lightly protected, rebuilding isn’t an option unless they’re dead set on bottoming out. With Pascal Siakam nearing 30, and both he and OG Anunoby set to become free agents in 2024, the Raptors contending window is closing quickly.
Toronto has some decisions to make this summer and it is arguably the most important offseason for Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri. With the Raptors looking to make a return to playoff basketball, which of their three top free agents should they look to bring back?
Toronto Raptors: Re-sign or Let walk 3 free agents
C Jakob Poeltl
Instead of selling at the trade deadline, the Raptors surprisingly dealt a first-round pick for the Austrian big man. Ujiri preached patience and believed that they needed to see this core with a true big before making any big decisions.
The trade did solve their center woes as Poeltl averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game since re-joining the Raptors. It did make them a better team as Toronto went 15-11 with Poeltl, but adding a non-threat from the perimeter made an already poor shooting team even worse.
The Raptors should prioritize keeping Jakob Poeltl.
Toronto has struggled to find a true rim-protecting center since the departure of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Ujiri finally solved that void by acquiring Poeltl. It would be foolish not to re-sign someone they have been desperately seeking, especially when that player cost you significant draft capital.
At just 27 years old, Poeltl has a lot of good years left in him. Though he doesn’t provide offensively on the perimeter, he is a good anchor to pair with Siakam and Barnes long-term. His game doesn’t rely on athleticism like many players in this league, making it much more comfortable to offer a long-term extension.