7 Jakob Poeltl trades the Raptors must explore to maximize their rebuild

The Toronto Raptors should fully embrace their rebuild why they can, trading Jakob Poeltl in one of these seven deals to add prospects and draft picks.
Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors / David Jensen/GettyImages
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No. 6: Jakob Poeltl traded to the New Orleans Pelicans

And now for something completely different.

Most of thes trades on this list would move Jakob Poeltl to another team in exchange for a combination of matching salary and draft capital, allowing the Toronto Raptors to restock their war chest and take a step back this upcoming season. This deal would be significantly different, using Jakob Poeltl as the centerpiece of a deal to add an All-Star partner for Scottie Barnes.

The New Orleans Pelicans are in a difficult place this summer, concluding that their young frontcourt stars do not fit together but facing a trade market where most other teams are lower on Brandon Ingram than they are. New Orleans is also planning to move on from starting center Jonas Valanciunas and want to add a big man who can truly wall off the paint and give them a foundation to build a great defense.

What if the Raptors came to the Pelicans and offered that rim-protecting starting center as the centerpiece of a trade offer for Ingram? Would this be enough to entice the Pelicans to make a deal?

Ingram Poeltl Pels Raps

For New Orleans, they would have their starting center in Poeltl and a backup big in Chris Boucher who would be an interesting fit to rotate in with Larry Nance or to stand in for him when he misses time. They have the wing depth to fill in behind Ingram more easily than they could fill in at center, with Trey Murphy III and Herb Jones likely starting at the 2 and 3 with Dyson Daniels and potentially Naji Marshall behind them. They lose some star equity here, but the two draft picks can be added to the rest of their collection to target a star guard to pair with Zion Williamson long-term.

For Toronto, this is a push not to rebuild this season but to pursue winning immediately. They gain a starting small forward with an All-Star pedigree, sliding RJ Barrett up to the 2 and giving the Raptors four legitimate scoring threats in the starting lineup. Teams that feel confident in defending multiple perimeter threats will be hard-pressed to stop Scottie Barnes and Brandon Ingram and RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. It's a potent group, even if none of them are clearly a Top-30 player. If Barnes does ascend into that range, and Ingram and Quickley can each be clear Top-40 players, there is some real potential for that group.

It's an expensive group, but the Raptors would still have a window this summer to add a starting center at a lower cost than Poeltl, or to draft a replacement with the No. 19 pick. This is a bet that (1) Barnes and this core are ready to win right now, and (2) it would be easier to find a replacement at starting center than to find another All-Star. It's a bold move, it may be a bit reckless, but it's absolutely fascinating.

Grade: B