How does Jakob Poeltl fit into a tanking San Antonio Spurs season?

With the San Antonio Spurs facing their first true rebuild in decades, there has been plenty of speculation on what is going to happen with their vets. Their best vet is, without question, Austrian center Jakob Poeltl. There are multiple avenues for San Antonio’s front office to explore with him. They can flip Poeltl for rebuilding assets or keep him to help grow and mold the youth. This decision might sound simple, but it goes deeper than you would think.

On one hand, the Spurs could truly benefit from moving Jakob to a team that’s looking to compete right now. He would be a great fit practically anywhere and is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. This past season he averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game with 1.7 blocks. His defense is on another level and he is excellent when converting around the rim, all at the cost of nine million dollars this year.

He could either be moved before the season starts or closer to the deadline when a team gets desperate. The Spurs could very likely get a first-round pick from someone for him and losing him all but locks in them being a bottom-five team in the NBA. There are, however, just as many perks of keeping him long-term. It could be argued that his playstyle would benefit such a young cast of players on the Spurs.

Jakob Poeltl still has value for a tanking San Antonio Spurs core.

San Antonio has plenty of young guards and wings who would love Jakob’s screens to free them up in the pick-and-roll. He makes great plays for teammates to get free off the ball as well. His passing in the post has also been a sneaky added tool. With San Antonio not really having any veteran ball handlers, and most of them getting their first taste of real minutes in the NBA, this type of help can be invaluable.

It is also likely that without Jakob, the Spurs have to play their guys out of position to compensate since they are a little shallow in the frontcourt. We saw Keldon Johnson play mostly power forward last season and while he was solid, I think most can agree he is better off at small forward. This leaves the Spurs with Keita Bates-Diop, Jeremy Sochan, Gorgui Dieng and Zach Collins. That is a mix of a rookie, some decent NBA journeymen and a player who hasn’t played a full season in three years. One injury and the Spurs look severely short-handed with everyone having to play out of position to compensate.

There’s a fair balance between both sides here. Does keeping the soon-to-be 27-year-old Australian give the rebuilding Spurs extra wins that could take him out of the top five in the lottery? Does his being traded stunt anyone’s development? Could the Spurs extend him and flip him down the line or is he the future for the Spurs at center?

These are all questions that could have a major impact on the San Antonio Spur’s season.