The Toronto Raptors are bringing back an old friend. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic, Toronto’s first move of the 2023 NBA trade deadline involves acquiring Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs, with Wojnarowski reporting that the team will send Khem Birch and some draft capital to Texas.
The Toronto Raptors are acquiring San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl for Khem Birch, a protected 2024 first-round draft pick and two future second-round picks, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/9Iz7KFCd20
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
Marc Stein had reported in the lead-up to the deal that the two sides were extensively discussing a Poeltl trade. It’s a reunion between Poeltl and the team that drafted him 16th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. He spent his first two years with the franchise before getting sent to San Antonio with DeMar DeRozan and a pick for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
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Since then, Poeltl has turned into one of the game’s most underrated centers, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Prior to getting moved this year, the big man averaged 12.1 points, nine rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game while connecting on 61.6 percent of his field goal attempts.
Toronto has been mentioned as a team to watch ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline for weeks, as they had the flexibility to acquire players who help them win, move players in an effort to take a more long-term view, or stand pat. While there is still plenty of time for them to do more, acquiring the 27-year-old Poeltl — an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year — gives them another player who could help them improve on their 26-30 record, which puts Toronto in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.