5 Moves the Toronto Raptors should make but probably won't

Kelly Olynyk, Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
Kelly Olynyk, Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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No. 1: Trade Jakob Poeltl

The pinnacle of a game plan that involves minimizing present competitiveness in order to build the best long-term team is also the one that will most pain Masai Ujiri, especially given the potential for public shaming: the Toronto Raptors need to trade Jakob Poeltl.

The team will watch the San Antonio Spurs draft a player with the No. 8 pick that should have been Toronto's, but instead went to the Spurs as payment for the Jakob Poeltl trade. It's without question that the Raptors' defense improved once Poeltl arrived to man the middle, and last season when the Austrian center missed time the Raptors were decidedly worse. That is all true.

It's also true that Poeltl's complete lack of spacing hurts their offense, and he is not the skywalking lob threat, midrange assassin or even putback monster who can bring layers of spacing to an offense. Poeltl can catch a pass on the roll if he is not in traffic, and he can finish if no one is between him and the basket. Add in a body, and his accuracy goes out the window.

Poeltl is also purely a drop big, while Scottie Barnes has the defensive chops to execute a switching scheme. That doesn't need to be Toronto's bread-and-butter, but having it in the arsenal would be valuable. Investing $20 million a year in a center with no shooting, shaky finishing and limited (albeit impactful) defense is a poor move for the franchise long-term.

There are teams that want a rim-protecting center and will pay handsomely for them right now, especially after a playoff run where the likes of Rudy Gobert, Isaiah Hartenstein, Dereck Lively II and Daniel Gafford all made outsized impacts. The Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and others could all be candidates to trade for Poeltl, and the Raptors need to negotiate with all of them and drive up the bidding.

Moving Poeltl will make the Raptors worse in the short-term, especially without an obvious replacement on the roster. That is a problem for this season, but down the road the Raptors can find the best player to fit next to Scottie Barnes and have a better long-term fit, likely on a better contract.

It's the central move for an offseason that could be focused on building the best Raptors team in three or four years; will the front office take that chance?

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