Back when the Spurs were first reporting to “training camp” before heading to Orlando, sometimes-starting center Jakob Poeltl expressed his intention to keep his options open when it came to his impending restricted free agency, citing his role and playing time as a main priority.
Now, in a recent interview with the Austria Press Agency, Poeltl seemed more receptive to the idea of remaining with the Spurs than he did before the Bubble, in no small part thanks to potential he sees in the the young core.
“You could see that we have potential. I think I showed the Spurs that I fit well into this concept. It can work really well with the young group too. It would be a cool thing if we could do that for a few years.”
With LaMarcus Aldridge out and the Spurs severely short on big men, Orlando was Poeltl’s time to shine, and when he stayed out of foul trouble he did just that, upping his numbers from 5.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks on 61.9% shooting in 16.6 min pre-Bubble to 8.3/8.1/1.8/1.4/64.6% in 25.8 minutes, respectively. Knowing he needed to show Gregg Popovich he can handled the increased roll, he feels he did just that.
“I have proven that I can handle more minutes and be effective.”
Perhaps most notably for a Spurs team that will be lacking in cap space this summer and potential budget cuts by the league as whole due to COVID-19 pandemic, Poeltl is not out seeking a huge pay day, just the right role the right team. After the Bubble, it appears he is much more confident that the Spurs could be that team.
“I still hope that I get a good offer and end up with a team with whom I can fill my role well. If it is then maybe a little less salary due to the corona situation, that would be okay with me too.
“I think it’s quite realistic that I will stay in San Antonio.”
Poeltl came to the Spurs from the Toronto Raptors in the Kawhi Leonard trade, along with DeMar DeRozan and the 2019 draft pick that became Keldon Johnson. As a restricted free agent, the Spurs would have 72 hours to match any offer given to Poeltl. It would be quite the boon for the Spurs if they can keep him on a team-friendly contract, although they can go over the cap in resigning him since they own his Bird Rights.