ReGrade the Trade: Raptors cripple their future by investing in towering center

Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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What the trade looks like now

Let's dig into the specifics of the trade and how each individual "asset" has developed in the 13 months since the trade was made. The Raptors were able to use little-used center Khem Birch as the matching salary and they included a trio of draft picks:

Poeltl trade regrade

The first pick to convey was the Raptors' 2023 second-round pick, which ended up 44th overall based on Toronto's record. The Spurs used that pick on French forward Sidy Cissoko, who has played sparingly for the Spurs but was always going to be a long-term project. Other players available in that range included Jalen Wilson, Trayce Jackson-Davis and GG Jackson II; the latter two may make an All-Rookie Team this season.

Then came Poeltl's new contract. Having a defensive anchor and lob threat unquestionably made the Raptors a better team down the stretch, but he hit free agency at the end of the year and the Raptors faced pressure to bring him back on a lucrative contract or see him walk for nothing (something Fred VanVleet did). The Raptors signed him to a four-year deal that pays him $19.5 million per season, a deal in the range of other centers like Jarrett Allen and Myles Turner.

The centerpiece of the deal for the Spurs was the Raptors' top-6 protected first-round pick. For much of this season it looked like the Raptors were likely to give up a late lottery pick, but as their season has spiraled their lottery standing has improved significantly. It now appears that they will have around a 50/50 chance of keeping their pick vs handing the seventh or eighth pick to the Spurs. If the pick doesn't convey this year it will roll over to a Top-6 protected pick for next season again.

Finally, the Raptors seem likely to be giving a pick in the 35-45 range to the Spurs in 2025 to cap off what is owed to them.

With the players and picks involved in the deal updated with the information gained in the last year, does the trade look better or worse for the Raptors? Let's re-grade the trade.