The Boston Celtics hold the NBA’s best record heading into the trade deadline, yet that doesn’t mean they won’t make a move. The Celtics have shown “significant trade interest” in San Antonio Spurs center jakob poeltl, according to NBA Insider Shams Charania,
A lot of new info on Jakob Poeltl in Sham's latest intel as Poeltl has gained "significant trade interest" by teams like Toronto & Boston.
Shams also reports that Poeltl declined an extension offer with him being able to net more money in free agency.#PorVida pic.twitter.com/PrgCjHzKrd
— Ty Jäger (@TheTyJager) January 17, 2023
The 27-year-old big has the skills to compete on a contending roster, as he nearly averages a double-double per game with 12.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. Currently, he’s stuck on the rebuilding Spurs who are close to the bottom of the Western Conference and in no position to make a playoff run. If he were dealt to the C’s, he’d join a championship-caliber roster and add depth to an already talented team. But what would it take to get the deal done?
The perfect trade offer Celtics must make for Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl
Boston receives: Jakob Poeltl
San Antonio receives: Danilo Gallinari, Payton Pritchard
The Celtics and Spurs have worked together on multiple trades this year, so it’s not hard to imagine them teaming up before the February 9 deadline this season.
Last year, the Spurs actually sent Danilo Gallinari to Beantown after they waived him, so he’ll have to end up elsewhere via free agency or a third trading partner. The veteran wing hasn’t played a game this season due to an ACL tear in the summer, yet he’s in the rehab process and looking ready to compete again.
As for Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, he’s been trapped in the bottom of the rotation for much of the 2022-23 season due to Boston’s plethora of guards (like Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart). The 24-year-old is too skilled to stay on the bench, and he could be the young playmaker the rebuilding Spurs are looking for.
Payton Pritchard gets the steal and the easyyy bucket 🔥 pic.twitter.com/sZSyW0hkrJ
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 15, 2023
If the Spurs don’t bite on that offer, a 2023 second-round pick from Boston should seal the deal (the Celtics already traded away their first-round pick in the Brogdon exchange). The initial deal is better for the C’s, but either way they’d land a solid big man who can back up Robert Williams III and eventually ease Al Horford out of the lineup.
Although Horford got a two-year extension this season, his days in the NBA will likely be over once that contract is up. Jakob Poeltl could work as his future replacement while also operating as an insurance in case Williams sustains another injury — or at the very least prevent a healthy Williams from being overworked.
And even though this exchange is a 2-for-1 in San Antonio’s favor, it doesn’t break the bank for the Celtics. Unlike the Spurs, Boston doesn’t have to worry about finding its core players. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they have their duo who will hopefully lead them to victory for years to come. For the Green Team, it’s just a matter of getting the perfect supporting cast that won’t overtax the front office.
However, the completion of this trade isn’t completely without financial worries. After not signing forward Grant Williams to an extension this season, the 24-year-old will become a free agent in 2024. If the C’s got Poeltl, paying Williams might become difficult, especially since he’s having a respectable year and deserving of some more money.
Overall, the Celtics have the upside of choosing the easiest option: doing nothing. They have a league-best 33-12 overall record and are fresh off an appearance in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the struggling Spurs haven’t made the playoffs in three seasons and lack a true star player.
The Celtics have the luxury of being able to keep the squad as is. Yet, it is an enticing idea to bolster the roster even further in order to raise the elusive Banner No. 18.