Trade grades: Jakob Poetl and Josh Hart edition


With my column cycle winding down for the year, I will be grading two smaller trades instead of one large one. In this week’s edition, I will be grading two smaller, but impactful, trades that went on during the trade season.

In the Josh Hart trade, the New York Knicks received : Josh Hart. The Portland Trail Blazers received the following players and picks: Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, Cam Reddish and a protected future second round pick.

This trade has mainly been a bad decision for the Portland Trail Blazers. Ryan Arcidiacono is generally a pretty decent bench guard, but he cannot do anything other than that. Svi got rerouted to the Charlotte Hornets in another trade for Matisse Thybulle, and the real kicker of the trade in Cam Reddish has been mediocre.

The entire idea of this trade was to take a gamble on Cam and see if he improves, but it did not happen this year. The real consequences of this trade are yet to be seen, since there are currently rumors circulating that the “famously loyal” Damian Lillard wants the Trail Blazers to either commit to winning a championship or rebuild without him. For these reasons, I will give the Trail Blazers a grade of C-.

The New York Knicks clearly won this trade. On paper, Josh Hart does not seem like that much of a game-changing addition for the Knicks. He only scores around ten points a game and assists around four times a game, but the stats cannot tell the whole story. No matter how insignificant the addition of a guard like Josh Hart could seem, the Knicks have clearly benefited.

As of April 6, 2023, the Knicks have gone 17-6 since acquiring Josh Hart. That is the second best record out of any team in that timeframe! This trend has continued in the playoffs too: The Knicks are currently up 3-1 over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. For their outstanding record since the trade, the Knicks get a grade of A.

In the Jakob Poeltl trade, the Toronto Raptors received Jakob Poeltl. The San Antonio Spurs received Khem Birch, a protected 2024 1st-round draft pick and two future 2nd-round picks.

The Toronto Raptors took a gamble and lost for the most part. Jakob Poeltl is not a bad player. According to stats and game footage, he scores about thirteen points a game, makes ten rebounds a game, and can hold his own on defense. The reason the Raptors lost had nothing to do with how he played and more with the circumstances surrounding the team. The Toronto Raptors were a “playoffs or bust” team this year.

Some of the big decisions coming this off-season include: free agency for Fred VanVleet (player-option), Gary Trent Jr. (player-option), and Jakob Poeltl (unrestricted free-agent); teams inquiring about trades for Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby’s extension. The only player rumored to be an untouchable this off-season is Scottie Barnes, the 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year. The fact that the Raptors might blow the entire team up during the off-season, Jakob Poeltl potentially leaving to get more money elsewhere during the off-season, and the mortgaging of the team’s future to the Spurs earns the Raptors a grade of D+.

The Spurs did this entire trade for those sweet, sweet picks. The Spurs are going through a rebuild right now, so players like Khem Birch have no value for the team. For one, Khem is a perennial backup, only scoring around two points a game with the Spurs. More importantly, Khem is thirty-years-old, and an up and coming team like the Spurs has no reason for a player that old to be involved in any long term plans.

The Spurs are clearly stocking up on picks. The second round picks are useful, but commonly, a team is lucky if it can get a role-player out of the second round, although teams have been better at finding diamonds in the rough recently. The more tantalizing option is the first round pick. Since the Raptors might blow it up over the off-season, the Spurs suddenly have a chance to grab a decent player in the lower lottery. The only caveat is that Toronto’s first round pick to San Antonio is protected for selections one through six in 2024, 2025, and 2026; if Toronto has not conveyed a first round pick to San Antonio by 2026, then Toronto will instead convey its second round picks in 2026 and 2027 to San Antonio instead of a first round pick. However, the odds that Toronto is bad enough to get a top six pick in back-to-back-to-back years is a lot lower than the odds of the pick converting. Due to the team’s focus on the future at the right time, the Spurs earned a grade of  A-.

This year was a crazy trade deadline, but I cannot wait to see what happens in the 2023 NBA Draft. Hopefully, the Pistons win the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, but no matter what, the NBA will always be an entertaining mix of possibilities.

In one of the final editions, I will cover the James Wiseman and Patrick Beverly trades.