The Toronto Raptors could be considering a reunion with a familiar face to plug one of the biggest holes on their roster.
Toronto is showing interest in San Antonio Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, according to NBA insider Marc Stein. Poeltl was drafted by the Raptors ninth overall in 2016 but was traded to San Antonio in the deal that sent Kawhi Leonard north of the border.
Poeltl is enjoying a career year for the Spurs, averaging 12.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 blocks per game on nearly 60 percent shooting from the field. The 26-year-old has a nose for the glass, ranking third in the NBA with 4.1 offensive rebounds per game.
The Raptors have a clear need at centre, and Stein reports Masai Ujiri and Co. have been seeking an upgrade at the position "for some time." Khem Birch has been limited by a knee injury this season, and Precious Achiuwa has often looked like the inexperienced 22-year-old he is.
In addition to his obvious fit from a personnel standpoint, Poeltl would also figure to slide in seamlessly in the locker room. He was drafted in the same year as Pascal Siakam, and the two developed a close friendship during their time with the Raptors.
Poeltl is signed through 2022-23, so he wouldn't be strictly a rental. He is earning $8.75 million this season and $9.4 million next. Stein notes that Toronto is just $268,420 below the NBA's luxury tax and may not be willing to exceed it in a deal for Poeltl.
Toronto (20-18) sits eighth in the Eastern Conference entering play Friday and has gone 11-5 over its past 16 games. The club is still a ways off from being a true title contender, so a blockbuster deal at the Feb. 10 is likely unrealistic. But a move to bring in someone like Poeltl makes perfect sense.
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