In the latest episode of The Hoop Collective, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hints at a potential connection between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl:
“The question is ‘does this team need to go out and get another big man who can defend?’” said Brian Windhorst. “The name that has come up that people have speculated has been Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. They did a deal with the Spurs last year, obviously, for Derrick White.
“The Spurs may want to keep Jakob Poeltl. I’m not saying they’re going to put him out there. The Spurs were unable to extend Poeltl. They tried to extnd him before the season. He will become an unrestricted free agent. They have the lowest payroll in the league. San Antonio can certainly afford to pay him, maybe that’s what they’re going to do at the end of the season.”
Sorry, Windy. We aggregated it.
Poeltl is playing the best ball of his career early in 2022-2023. The big man is playing heavy minutes for Gregg Popovich and averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly four assists per game. He’s become the hub to San Antonio’s system on both sides of the ball:
As a team, the Spurs are 7th in passes per game, 1st in assists per game, 1st in potential assists per game and 4th in secondary assists per game. More notable is Poeltl’s role. The only center making more passes per game is Nikola Jokic. These don’t always turn into assists, but this is more proof that the Spurs aren’t just taking the first shot available. They are using Poeltl as a hub to bend defenses with cutters, and being patient and allowing their young players to work through progressions like NFL Quarterbacks.
He’s in the final season of a three-year, $26.5 million contract and depending on what it would take to get Poeltl in Boston, the Celtics could be facing an interesting proposition come next summer. With Grant Williams poised to enter restricted free agency and Al Horford and Poeltl becoming FA’s, could Brad Stevens and ownership afford to bring back all of them? All three could command salaries in the $15-20 AAV range and that could push the salary cap upwards of $200 million next season.