Celtics linked to legit veteran center help in trade rumors
Sounds like the Celtics are in the market for Robert Williams insurance.
There’s a new trade rumor emerging involving the C’s and a major recent trade partner, the San Antonio Spurs. Less than a year after acquiring Derrick White ahead of the trade deadline, the Celtics are now rumored to be interested in Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl. That’s according to Brian Windhorst in a new episode of ESPN’s “The Hoop Collective,” in which he mentioned Poeltl as a “name that has come up” and has been “speculated” as a possible trade target.
So, at this point it’s merely speculation, hearsay, whatever you want to call it. But it makes sense for the Celtics to be seeking center help. The oft-injured Williams is still roughly projected to return to basketball activities in January at the earliest, and he can’t exactly be relied upon to stay on the court for the rest of the season.
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Poeltl is averaging 13.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 15 games (all starts) so far this season, while shooting 65.9 percent from the field. He’s also been reasonably durable in his career, averaging 72.4 games played and no less than 66 over the previous five seasons.
The one major downside is he’s a poor free throw shooter, shooting 51.6 percent from the line in his career. But Poeltl would most certainly fill the Celtics’ need for size and depth in the frontcourt.
Windhorst did acknowledge that San Antonio may not want to trade Poeltl in the first place, but the team also failed to sign the 27-year-old to an extension before the season started. The Spurs have the NBA’s lowest payroll and could afford to re-sign Poeltl, but if they intend to move on from him, they might as well try to get something for him at the trade deadline.
SAN ANTONIO, TX – FEBRUARY 01: Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs blocks shot of Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies at AT&T Center on February 1, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
As a starting-caliber 7-footer who can rebound and defend, Poeltl should be able to fetch a decent return.
As for the Celtics’ side in all this? Windhorst made a compelling argument for why the Celtics should be able to put together a good-enough package to bring Poeltl aboard.
“The Celtics are in the [luxury] tax for the first time in a while, they’re willing to spend, they can trade a first round pick,” Windhorst said. “So Poeltl makes $9.3 [million], that’s not a huge salary to try and get up there and match, so if they’re willing to include a pick, the Celtics can do it.
“They have some contracts they could cobble together that could get them there.”
It remains to be seen if the Spurs are willing to shop Poeltl ahead of the trade deadline at all, and if Celtics President of Basketball Ops Brad Stevens is willing to pull the trigger on the price tag. But it’s not surprising that Stevens would be checking in on centers around the league in the absence of Williams.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.