Thin center market proves Raptors shouldn't be hasty about trading Jakob Poeltl

Even if there's a fire sale, Jakob Poeltl should remain with the Raptors for the foreseeable future.
Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors
Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors / Andrew Lahodynskyj/GettyImages

The Toronto Raptors have completely shifted gears in their approach for the future, as they have fully committed to building upon their young core. With that being said, reports have circulated suggesting Masai Ujiri and company are open to trading their veteran roster members ahead of the 2024 trade deadline, including their starting center Jakob Poeltl.

However, given a meek center market at the moment, it makes little sense for the Raptors to rush a Poeltl trade, as it would be tough to find an adequate replacement even for a rebuild-oriented team.

The 2023-24 season has seen many ups and downs for Jakob Poeltl, who Toronto gave a four-year deal worth $80 million in the offseason. Poeltl had some solid showings in the early part of the season, while also having abysmal performances to counteract. Despite his inconsistencies, Poeltl's efforts and impact on the Toronto Raptors are never more apparent given their record in games without Jakob on the floor, a horrendous 2-9 this season.

The Raptors have had a tough time stopping bigger forwards and centers in the absence of Poeltl, with their January 28 matchup against Atlanta standing out as three Hawks players recorded double-digit rebounds, all while no Raptors player could do the same.

Jakob Poeltl should be an important piece for the Raptors, even if they choose to go young

Many Raptors fans would like to forget the competent centerless years endured following the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Toronto experimented with guys like Aron Baynes, Freddie Gillespie, and Khem Birch, while also running Pascal Siakam at center at one point.

It wasn't until the Raptors traded for Poeltl at last year's trade deadline that they finally had a traditional center to match up with opposing bigs. Losing Poeltl would either mean a hypothetical trade gives Toronto a serviceable big in return, or else Toronto is forced to run hefty minutes to aging Thaddeus Young or inexperienced Jontay Porter.

In what is considered a fairly weak draft that is lacking in top center prospects, moving Poeltl to reset the clock with a younger player who may one day become as good as Poeltl is self-defeating.

The Raptors may have their sights on losing as many games as possible, but when it becomes time to be competitive again, a player of Jakob Poeltl's caliber is necessary for any contending team. If you're Toronto, you cannot bank on drafting a ready-made center in the draft, as it would take several seasons to develop their play at the next level.

And even if they do draft a center, why not have Jakob Poeltl to mentor them in a veteran role? The pros of keeping Jakob Poeltl certainly outweigh the cons.