Report: The Spurs Have Rejected a Bulls Trade Offer for Center Jakob Poeltl

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Report: The Spurs Have Rejected a Bulls Trade Offer for Center Jakob Poeltl

Chicago Bulls

Despite DeMar DeRozan’s belief that the Bulls will be fine without any external additions ahead of the February 10 NBA Trade Deadline, that doesn’t appear to be the plan for Chicago’s front office. Arturas Karnisovas and co. have reportedly already sent out an offer to the Celtics for guard Dennis Schroder. And today, we learned that they’ve also sent out at least one offer to the Spurs for center Jakob Poeltl.

Unfortunately, that offer has reportedly already been rejected” per Marc Stein:

The Spurs, league sources say, have rebuffed one Chicago offer for in-demand center Jakob Poeltl centered around a future first-round pick. As we’ve been reporting for weeks, Poeltl is among the most coveted centers in the league at a time numerous teams are pursuing them.

(Note: I’m trying not to focus too heavily on the phrasing of “one Chicago offer,” in the report above, but it’s at least possible that it implies the Bulls could have other offers for Poeltl in mind, whether they’re actually on the table yet or not. Then again, it could also mean the Spurs have more offers from other teams, too. Or it could mean nothing and was just how Stein chose to write that sentence. Just thinking out loud here.)

There’s no question that an already undersized Bulls team – which went on to lose Patrick Williams – could use some help under the rim/in terms of size, but it appears they’ve picked the wrong season to be in need at that particular position. And while the Bulls may be more optimistic about a significant-length return for Williams before the end of the regular season, you can’t blame the Celtics for calling their bluff multiple days ahead of the actual deadline.

Put simply, if Poeltl really is as in-demand as Stein suggests (we know at least the Raptors have shown serious interest so far), and the Bulls are as desperate as we kinda think they are for big help, then you can imagine they expect Chicago to improve their offer when the clock starts winding down on deadline day.

Which is not to say the Bulls necessarily should improve their offer beyond their comfort level. Here’s what Eli wrote a few days ago, when the rumor of the Bulls interest first surfaced:

While the latest Portland Trail Blazers trade – which signaled tank-mode for the organization this season – could impact the immediate value of the Bulls lottery-protected first-round pick, it is still protected for several more years. The Spurs could find that extra first useful as they continue their rebuild. Likewise, the Bulls do have a couple of interesting role players, the most desirable of which is certainly Coby White.

With all that said, I find it hard to believe the Bulls would pay this high price for a backup big man. Not only is Nikola Vucevic the starting center (and under control for one more season, just like Poeltl), but he is a significant part of this Bulls team’s success. I don’t see a world where this front office or head coach Billy Donovan prefers to lessen his role or greatly reduce his minutes on the floor.

Don’t get me wrong, a center rotation of Vucevic-Poeltl would instantly become one of the best and most balanced in the league. But as one of the NBA’s better offensive rebounders and rim-protectors, Poeltl has proven over the past two seasons that he deserves a substantial role. This year, he is averaging 13.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on a 61.4 percent clip from the field. He averages an impactful 28.7 minutes per game with an estimated plus-minus of +3.9, which ranks in the NBA’s 95th percentile, per Dunks & Threes. In the Spurs’ most recent game against Chicago, Poeltl dropped 21 points with 11 rebounds in a +30 performance.

Poeltl might fill some important holes on this Bulls team, but I’m not sure they can provide the time on the court he needs. I’m also not sure he is worth the Spurs asking price if he’s going to play a reduced role in Chicago.

Karnisovas has been plenty aggressive since taking over the Bulls, both in free agency and at the trade deadline. And the sudden rise of Ayo Dosunmu could make parting with Coby White a little more tenable – at least, after the return of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. But parting with White – and/or something greater than the lottery protected first-round pick presumably included in the deal that was rebuffed – is a matter of preference … and stomach. How much do you sell out for this season and how much closer does Poeltl get you? So I guess for now, we’ll have to wait and see who blinks first, Karnisovas, or some other team out there willing to do more to pry Poeltl away from San Antonio.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami