Spurs coach Popovich a big fan of former pupil, current Raptor Jakob Poeltl


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Jakob Poeltl has been traded twice in his career, and both times the teams dealing him did so reluctantly.

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First he was part of the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan blockbuster, a necessary inclusion by the Spurs to make the move but one the Raptors didn’t make happily. Poeltl would then play 4.5 seasons with the Spurs, developing into a quality starting centre, before the Raptors came calling with an offer San Antonio, in the early stages of a rebuild following one of the best multi-decade runs in NBA history, couldn’t refuse.

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Toronto overpaid to finally solve it’s hole in the middle, and San Antonio will benefit, either this summer or next, whenever Toronto next makes a first round selection that isn’t in the Top 6, the pick will go to San Antonio.

Still, the Spurs would have liked to keep Poeltl and still speak glowingly of the big man.

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“The tall guy?” asked the normally curmudgeonly Gregg Popovich dryly before Monday’s game between his Spurs and the Raptors. “He’s wonderful, everybody knows that. If you don’t know that he’s wonderful then there’s something wrong with you. He’s a great teammate, hard worker, knows his role inside and out,” said Popovich, who is in his 28th season coaching the Spurs.

“You know what you’re going to get every single night. Off the court he’s a lot of fun, he enjoys life,” Popovich said.

The second trade has satisfied both parties, with Poeltl playing well in Toronto and the Spurs eventually landing franchise-changer Victor Wembanyama to man the middle, with Toronto’s pick coming there way soon.

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