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. 1: Jakob Poeltl traded to the Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets worked hard to overhaul their defense last summer, adding lockdown wing Dillon Brooks and a proven backcourt defender in Fred VanVleet who could also run the offense. They drafted an elite athlete at No. 4 in Amen Thompson who is a future All-Defense candidate. It all worked, and the Rockets took a major step forward to finish 9th defensively.

The one move they didn't make, however, was signing Brook Lopez; they cleared the space and negotiated a lucrative new contract with the mountainous center only for him to return to the Milwaukee Bucks at the last minute. Alperen Sengun then broke out this past season, but what Sengun nor anyone else on the roster brings is high-level rim protection.

If the Rockets are still searching for such a player they could be interested in trading for Jakob Poeltl. They have multiple players at every position on the roster except for center, so using assets to bring in another high-end option, even if he isn't going to start, doesn't cost them elsewhere on the roster.

The one hurdle is figuring out the draft return, since the No. 3 pick is likely too much for Poeltl. Here is one way the teams could work it out:

Rockets Poeltl Eason No. 3

Houston would now have strong defenders available at every position, spread between the starters and reserves to give them an elite defensive floor all 48 minutes. They can start Brooks, VanVleet and Jabari Smith Jr. to defend around the less-impactful Sengun, then rotate in Jakob Poeltl and Amen Thompson and surround them with scorers and shooters. They can also look at a backcourt option with the 19th or 31st picks.

The Toronto Raptors would get a short-term starting center in Steven Adams and could either use the No. 3 pick on Donovan Clingan or add a player like Reed Sheppard or Stephon Castle who can inject on-ball defense into the backcourt. Tari Eason is a do-it-all forward and defensive dynamo who has untapped potential playing on a crowded Rockets team.

That's a lot of value back for Poeltl, even if it does mean they lost their other two picks in this year's draft. The chance to draft in the top 3, even in a down draft, is worth the move, and this deal would provide a lot of future financial flexibility next summer and beyond.

Grade: A-

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