Evaluating the Jakob Poeltl Trade After Final Details Revealed

The San Antonio Spurs have officially completed the Jakob Poeltl trade with the Toronto Raptors. In the deal, the Spurs are receiving a protected 2024 first round pick, an unprotected 2023 second round pick, an unprotected 2025 second round pick and Khem Birch.

Last night, I wasn’t sure what to make of this trade due to the unknown protections on the 2024 first rounder. We also didn’t know which years the Raptors would be sending second round picks to the Spurs.

As it turns out, the exact details of the Poeltl transaction make this look like a really good trade for San Antonio.

-The 2024 first rounder is protected for picks 1-6. If it doesn’t convey, it becomes a 1-6 protected 2025 first rounder. If that still doesn’t convey, the pick remains a 1-6 protected first rounder in the 2026 draft.

That basically means the Spurs are all but guaranteed to get a first round pick for Poeltl. And there’s a chance that the Spurs will get a lottery pick as soon as next season.

While these conditions aren’t as good as an unprotected first round pick, it’s relatively close and is likely to result in the same exact pick.

To put the protection of this pick in perspective, in the Russell Westbrook trade, the Utah Jazz received a 2027 first round pick in exchange for Mike Conley, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. That first round pick is protected 1-4 in the 2027 draft. If it doesn’t convey, the Jazz get a 2027 second rounder instead. 

Thus, there’s a real chance that the Jazz won’t actually get a first rounder for orchestrating the Westbrook trade. The Spurs, on the other hand, don’t need to worry because there are three chances for the first round pick from the Raptors to convey.

-The fact that San Antonio got Toronto’s 2023 second round pick is a major plus. Currently, due to the Raptors sub-.500 record, that pick is in line to be the 39th overall selection in the draft. 

The Raptors had already traded away their 2024 second rounder so getting a 2025 second round pick was the next soonest possibility.

-There was some talk that Dalano Banton would need to be added to the trade to make the numbers work but that ended up not being the case. The Raptors completed this trade beneath the tax threshold so a straight swap of Poeltl and Birch worked.

-All along, the Spurs were telling teams they wanted two first rounders for Poeltl. In the end, San Antonio didn’t quite get what they wanted — but the Spurs got within the same ballpark: A virtually guaranteed first round pick, a pick that is currently 39th in the 2023 draft and a future second rounder in 2025. Considering how few first round picks were dealt today, the Spurs have to be feeling good about what they got for Poeltl.

-Why didn’t the Spurs hold tight on their demand of two first round picks for Poeltl? According to a source close to the team, there are whispers that Poeltl is not going to accept anything less than $80 million over four years this summer. The Spurs, I’m told, were not prepared to offer Poeltl that much guaranteed money. A source tells me that internal discussions capped the amount of money the Spurs were comfortable paying Poeltl at around $65 million. 

Instead of possibly losing Poeltl for nothing, San Antonio decided to take what they could get for him at the trade deadline. I’ve been told this was the best trade offer on the table — and the Raptors also happened to be Poeltl’s preferred destination.