In a move that seemed like an overpay to some, the Toronto Raptors traded a first-round draft choice to the San Antonio Spurs to acquire center Jakob Poeltl, who Toronto initially flipped away to the Spurs in order to acquire Kawhi Leonard. The re-acquisition played a big role in fixing Toronto’s lackluster interior defense.
Poeltl hit free agency soon after, looking to cash in after a solid season on both ends of the floor. Masai Ujiri, who has said that he believes Poeltl is one of the ten best centers in the NBA, paid him like a franchise cornerstone with a very solid contract that satisfies both parties.
Poeltl was brought back on a four-year, $80 million contract that includes a player option for the final season. With Nikola Vucevic fresh off getting a three-year, $60 million extension from the Bulls, Poeltl’s deal represents market value for a player of his caliber.
Signing Poeltl was a necessity, and Toronto did it as soon as possible.
Toronto Raptors sign Jakob Poeltl to four-year contract.
Poeltl averaged 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game after getting traded back to Toronto. The Raptors graded out as one of the best teams in the league in terms of plus-minus per 100 possessions when Poeltl was on the floor compared to when he was off.
Poeltl is not a dominant offensive player, but he has shown to be a well above-average interior finisher that can rebound at a high level, block shots, and match up well against some of the best big men in the Eastern Conference.
Poeltl was reportedly seeking to play for a winning team after years of rebuilding with the Spurs, and the Raptors’ aggressive mindset seems to have helped quench his thirst. In a conference full of dominant bigs, the Raptors needed a player like Poeltl to counteract them.
Poeltl is not a perfect player by any means, but he was just what the doctor ordered for a Raptors team that sorely needed someone with his skill set. With his best years in the windshield, Poeltl decided that Darko Rajakovic and the Raptors made up the best environment for him.