Jakob Poeltl is set to become a restricted agent this offseason, and while he could sign an extension to remain in San Antonio, the fourth-year center is keeping his options open. In a recent interview highlighted by Jeff Garcia of New 4 San Antonio, the strapping seven-footer told the Austrian Press Agency playing time is his foremost concern heading into his fifth season.
“I would be interested to look at least a few other options and maybe find something that fits the concept better. But when it comes to my career and my development, my role and the playing time are in the foreground.”
Fortunately for Poeltl, minutes should be plentiful when the Silver and Black travel to Orlando to take part in the league restart later this month. LaMarcus Aldridge underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in April, and the bruising big man is one of the few proven commodities in the Spurs’ collection of young frontcourt pieces.
An MCL sprain landed Jakob on the injury report a few weeks before Coronavirus forced the NBA into a premature hiatus. And though there was no timetable for his return, quarantine allowed Poeltl to rehab and recover just in time to fully participate in the resumption of competitive play at the Walt Disney World bubble.
#Spurs Jakob Poeltl says he's feeling great and his knee is fine. He was out before league suspended play in March. LaMarcus Aldridge is out for the restart. #KSATsports— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) July 2, 2020
Jakob may not have the gaudy per game numbers of his sidelined All-Star counterpart, but the 24-year-old turned some heads with his stellar performance off the pine this season. He led San Antonio in Defensive Box Plus-Minus, Defensive Rating, Defensive Points Saved, and silently snuck his way to the eleventh place in Blocks Per 100 Possessions in the NBA.
Although Poeltl ranked among the best rim protectors in the association, his role stagnated in his second go-round with the Spurs. Despite playing virtually the same amount of minutes per game from a year ago, the Austrian center showed off some impressive passing chops to go along with his improved shot swatting prowess.
With Giannis on the court, watching a 7-footer do this can seem almost normal, but I'm still surprised Sean and Bill weren't more excited about Jakob Poeltl faking a dribble hand off, driving down to the baseline and flinging a 1 handed pass out to Patty Mills for a corner 3. pic.twitter.com/l0TaApOCbk— CharlieOCharles (@CharlieOCharles) January 5, 2020
Since Jakob is a restricted free agent, San Antonio has the right to match any offer their big man receives this offseason, but whether on not they do so will likely depend on his level of production. If he shines, Poeltl could be on his way to a lucrative payday. If he doesn’t, he might find himself back on the bench battling for a larger role.
Either way, the inevitable financial blow heading for the NBA is sure to alter the contract negotiating landscape around the league. While the amount of money lost as a result of the pandemic-induced pause hasn’t been calculated, there’s little doubt it will affect the salary cap situation in the coming years. And with less cash to dole out, the Spurs must carefully determine which players are indispensable.