With Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari out, the Boston Celtics are short-staffed in their frontcourt at the moment. Outside of Al Horford, who is 36 years old, the Celtics have Grant Williams, Luke Kornet, Blake Griffin, Noah Vonleh, and Mfiondu Kabengele as their only other options in their frontcourt.
The Celtics may very well roll with their crew since Williams is expected back around December or January, but acquiring a possible upgrade is not the worst idea. Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston listed a number of centers that could help the Celtics in their frontcourt. Among them was Jakob Poeltl of the San Antonio Spurs.
“If the Celtics want a starting-caliber center who can gobble up rebounds and block shots, Poeltl is their man. The 7-foot-1 big man averaged a near double-double last season (13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game) while adding 1.7 blocks per contest. The Spurs will be tanking for Victor Wembanyama, so he should be available.
“Poeltl wouldn’t come cheap, however, and Boston likely would need to deal Gallinari, Pritchard, and a first-rounder to land him.”
Poeltl has developed a reputation for being one of the league’s premier rim protectors since entering the NBA in 2016. He is in the last year of a three-year, $26 million contract he signed with the Spurs.
Celtics Insider Calls Poeltl A ‘Prized Piece’
On October 28, Brian Robb of MassLive was asked about what bigs the Celtics could potentially trade for down the line during the season. While Robb listed where the Celtics could turn to for frontcourt help, he brought up Poeltl while singling him out as a “prized piece.”
“There are a few spots of could be of interest to Boston. One is Orlando, who… have a glut of potentially useful big men on their roster. Once Jonathan Isaac returns, it will be intriguing to see whether they would be willing to kick the tires on an odd man out in their rotation. The same goes for the Pistons with a defensive-minded guy like Nerlens Noel available on the cheap, with Detroit focused on younger talent. A prized piece in my mind would remain Jakob Poeltl, who could shore up Boston’s interior defense in a backup role,” Robb said.
Since the Spurs have started the season at 5-2, it remains to be seen if the Spurs will trade their valuable players like Poeltl if they continue to win at their current pace.
Luke Kornet Shines in Increased Role
After racking up DNPs when the Celtics faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, Luke Kornet has seen his role steadily increase over the last four games with the Celtics. Especially in the last two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards, where he’s played 26 and 19 minutes, respectively.
In those last two games, the Celtics are a plus-23.3 per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor and minus-7.4 point per 100 possessions when he’s off, meaning that Luke Kornet has an overall net rating of plus-30.7, second only to Sam Hauser.
Not only are the Celtics playing better when he’s on the court, but his strategies on the defensive end are not only effective, but they are going viral on the interwebs.
President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens has voiced his confidence in Kornet multiple times. Since Interim Head Coach Joe Mazzulla increased his role, he’s proving Stevens right.