Raptors send Birch, picks to Spurs in exchange for centre Poeltl
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 9, 2023 8:31AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 9, 2023 3:27PM EST
The Toronto Raptors made one move at the NBA trade deadline — and it was for a familiar face.
Centre Jakob Poeltl rejoined the Raptors in a trade with San Antonio early Thursday morning that sent Canadian centre Khem Birch, a protected 2024 first-round pick, and two future second-round picks to the Spurs.
It was Toronto's lone deal before the NBA's trade deadline.
Poeltl spent the first two seasons of his NBA career with the Raptors after Toronto drafted him ninth overall in 2016. He was traded with all-star swingman DeMar DeRozan and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick to the Spurs in the summer of 2018 for forwards Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
That deal laid the foundation for the Raptors' championship run in 2019, with Leonard earning NBA Finals MVP honours.
Poeltl, who was already in Toronto on Wednesday night as the Spurs lost to the Raptors 112-98, spoke about the possibility of being traded again after the game.
"I just try to focus on the here and now for the most part," said the 27-year-old. "I know there's a lot of noise and stuff. I'm just trying to keep it out as much as possible, just trying to focus on these games now.
"Whatever happens by whatever time it is tomorrow, I'll deal with it then."
Poeltl is a significant upgrade at centre for the Raptors, who have been searching for a capable hand at the five spot for several seasons.
Poeltl is averaging 12.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game across 45 appearances for the Spurs this season.
Birch, from Montreal, is averaging 2.2 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.3 blocks in 8.1 minutes per game over 20 games this season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2023.
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