The Toronto Raptors not only committed to winning in 2023 by refusing to trade away Pascal Siakam, but they signed Jakob Poeltl to a four-year contract worth just under $80 million in the early stages of free agency. Poeltl sounded like a perfect fit for a team who needed some thunder in the paint.
Poeltl averaged 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game with the Raptors last season. Masai Ujiri, who called Poeltl a Top 10 center in the NBA, believes that production is worthy of a new contract that makes him one of the highest-paid centers in the league.
As the offseason drags on, Siakam wanted to link up with his fellow 2016 draftee and brand new partner in crime, but it looks like the Austrian big has been hard to get in touch with. Siakam was willing to voice his tongue-in-cheek frustrations.
Siakam jokingly chided Poeltl for being hard to reach during the offseason, saying that it has been impossible to get him to either hand out of work with the Cameroonian star. Siakam chuckled and blamed this communication breakdown on Poeltl changing once he got his big payday.
Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam digs Jakob Poeltl after signing contract.
Poeltl’s contract serves as a sign that Toronto is invested in a frontcourt that comprises him, Scottie Barnes, and Siakam for the 2023-24 season and (at least) the first two for most of the next half-decade. Even though the spacing is questionable, Poeltl had a huge impact on the team.
Poeltl had the Raptors playing like one of the best defensive teams in the league. While he arrived too late to help them escape the clutches of the play-in, Toronto was playing above .500 ball after the Poeltl acquisition. His rim protection was a valuable trait that this team was missing for long stretches of time.
For Poeltl to make good on the faith Toronto put in him (and avoid more earnest criticism from Siakam), he needs to maintain his high level of efficiency while also being a facilitator. Poeltl is a solid scorer, but his passing ability for a 7-1 center is what truly sets him apart.
Siakam and Poeltl may have been unable to connect in the offseason, but they should have no issue making magic when they get back on the court and the games start counting again. With a full season in Toronto coming up, Poeltl’s effectiveness could be dialed up to maximum.