Jerami Grant could be on the move despite signing with the Pistons just one year ago. According to Marc Stein, there is a “rising belief” that Detroit will trade him ahead of the February 10 trade deadline. Grant is a veteran who can help many good teams, making his current fit in Detroit questionable both short and long term. The Pistons’ timeline doesn’t align with Grant’s as it may take a while until the next great Pistons team is here.
Although Pistons’ general manager Troy Weaver has a strong relationship with the 6-foot-8 forward dating back to their days in Oklahoma City, it makes sense in the long run to trade him. Detroit currently holds the worst record in the league and is in the midst of a long rebuild around Cade Cunningham. In a league where teams put a premium on versatile wing players on team-friendly contracts, it’s no surprise there is so much interest in Grant. There is a good chance that an interested team overpays for him due to the scarcity of players with his skill set available for trade.
Another reason the Pistons might want to move on from Grant now is that he is set to become extension-eligible in the 2022 offseason. He will be eligible for a maximum of four years, $112.7 million that would pay him an annual rate of $28 million through his age 33 season. He’s playing with a Real-Time Contract of $25.2 million according to ProFitX. However, this is with him playing as one of the first options on the Pistons. If traded, there’s a strong chance it’s to a contender where he becomes the fourth or fifth option like he was as a Nugget. A diminished role might not help with his chances of getting a raise but his new team should still want to extend him, perhaps at around his current rate.
Given their rebuilding state, the Pistons will likely seek first-round pick compensation and young players with potential in return for Grant. Another possible objective for Detroit is if they want to generate more cap space for the 2022 offseason. They are currently projected to be able to generate up to $30 million in cap space with Grant’s $21 million salary.
Here are some examples of the types of packages Detroit might be looking at for Grant:
Sham Charania reports the Jazz are pursuing a defensive-minded wing via trade. This makes sense after their meltdown to the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2021 playoffs. While Utah has one of the league’s best defenses, it mostly hinges on Rudy Gobert. The Jazz don’t have adequate perimeter defense and the Clippers exploited that. Grant isn’t an elite perimeter defender and may not have been the difference between the Jazz winning or losing to the Clippers last year, but he would’ve been a huge upgrade over what they were putting out.
As far as draft compensation goes, they can offer their 2028 first-round pick and a conditional 2026 first-round pick. There’s a strong chance they will need to part with at least one of those draft picks to acquire Grant. Trading first-round picks that far out carries a lot of risk, but it’s an aggressive move the Jazz may have to make to put them over the top. Whether it’s one or both first-round picks, those will likely be the centerpiece of Utah’s potential offer for Grant.
There are many different types of player combinations Utah can offer in exchange for Grant and who they send could be based on Detroit’s preferences. The most simple framework would be sending back Bojan Bogdanovic and draft compensation, which was proposed by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. They could also potentially get a third team involved to take on Bogdanovic that sends additional draft picks to Detroit.
If they want to keep Bogdanovic, they could match salaries by sending back one of Joe Ingles or Jordan Clarkson, as well as Udoka Azubuike and Eric Paschall. Former second-round pick Jared Butler could also be included if the Pistons require more incentive. Ingles is easier to move due to his expiring contract versus Clarkson’s remaining two years and $27.6 million. If the Pistons take back only expiring contracts for Grant, they could generate around $50 million in cap space in 2022.
The Chicago Bulls have been so aggressive over the past year one would think they’re all out of tradeable assets in the form of youth and first-round picks they’re allowed to trade. They moved three first-round picks to acquire DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic but were very fortunate to give up next to nothing for Lonzo Ball. They still have enough left in their cupboard to acquire another piece such as Grant.
Chicago expected big things from Patrick Williams alongside their big four but his season ended early with a wrist injury. Grant could fill in for that projected role perfectly and would ease things for the rest of their core players such as their minute load and the amount of time they have to play a position up. Their defense has proven to be sustainable largely on the heels of Ball and Alex Caruso and Grant would add to that.
Their Stepien Rule situation is very complicated as just about all their future first-round picks are tied up with protections through 2027. As far as their own first-round picks, they can only trade a conditional 2027 or 2028 first-round pick. The Bulls also own the Blazers 2022 first-round pick which is lottery-protected through 2028. That pick is easier to move and should have plenty of interest since there’s still a good chance the Blazers make some upgrades to the roster via trade and qualify for a low seed in the playoffs this year. A mid-first-round pick may be the highest selection the Pistons can realistically get for Grant in the 2022 draft.
It seems unlikely the Bulls will part ways with Williams despite his injury given how high they are on him. This could make the Blazers first-round pick the centerpiece of their offer. Along with it, the Bulls can match salaries largely with two of Derrick Jones Jr., Troy Brown Jr., and Coby White. White has struggled to get his shot going this season which could make him an intriguing buy-low target for the Pistons in this trade. The Pistons could also ask for Ayo Dosunmu if they want another high-upside player.
At first glance, it doesn’t appear the Suns have anything appealing to offer Detroit outside their big four. Still, it should go without saying that Grant would be an outstanding addition and fit in Phoenix. There could be fair arguments against such an addition due to how well the Suns are currently playing and the production they’re getting from their forwards. But if they’re looking to make an aggressive move to increase their title chances, Grant could be gettable for them.
I think the scariest possible deadline development for other contenders would be Phoenix realizing “hey, we control more of our draft capital than any other contender, we can get crazy.”
Like, if the Suns wanted to say screw it and trade three 1sts for Jerami Grant, they could.
— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) December 16, 2021
As CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn points out, the Suns control a considerable amount of their first-round picks compared to other title contenders. They owe their Top 12 protected 2022 first-round pick to Oklahoma City which is protected through 2025, but it will convey this year as the Suns currently have the best record in the league. The Pistons could agree to acquire multiple conditional Suns first-round picks. At most, the Pistons could get up to three first-round picks from the Suns, two of which would have to be conditional.
The question of how many first-round picks the Suns will have to give up may depend on if they’re willing to trade Cameron Johnson. If they are, perhaps one additional first-round pick could be enough. As far as salary matching goes, Phoenix will likely want to keep as many rotation players as possible. In this scenario, they’ll likely want to include Dario Saric who is out for the season, and Jalen Smith who is already out of their future plans having declined his team option for next season.
One factor that could stop the Suns from making such a move is the price. Multiple first-round picks for Grant is steep, especially ones so far out. Also, Phoenix is set to be deep in the luxury tax for the foreseeable future assuming they re-sign Deandre Ayton to a contract near the maximum range. He is earning around $20 million annually, as well as potential new contracts for Johnson and Jae Crowder down the line, will make the roster extremely expensive. Phoenix does have a move to make with the Saric and Smith salary slots, but it could be for a player such as Thaddeus Young who earns less money and won’t require as many assets to acquire.
Los Angeles Lakers
It feels like a strong possibility that the all-in Lakers will push whatever chips they have left for another veteran who can increase their title odds. Their defense took a hit early on in the season but has slowly risen recently to slightly above league average. A lot of their defensive issues come at the perimeter with opposing teams getting to the paint with ease. The Lakers currently allow the seventh-most points in the paint per game in the league, and a versatile wing like Grant can help improve that.
The Lakers are among teams with the least amount of trade flexibility in the league due to their lack of mid-sized salaries for salary-matching, and the Stepien rule limiting them to only being able to send out just one future first-round pick. Still, the package the Lakers have to offer could suffice depending on how Detroit feels about Talen Horton-Tucker. At worst for the Pistons, it can be a baseline to improve Grant’s market and get better offers from other teams.
To match salaries, the Lakers will certainly have to include Horton Tucker and Kendrick Nunn, as well as an additional player earning a minimum salary. If there is a strong market for Grant, the Pistons might be able to squeeze the Lakers for everything they’ve got to offer which includes a 2027 or 2028 first-round pick and rookie standout Austin Reaves. At that point, the Lakers will have to weigh whether it’s worth mortgaging the rest of their future to hopefully save their season against very long odds.
In fairness to the Lakers’ top offer, it may be the best one listed here. It has both the combination of an established young stud in Horton-Tucker who still has room to grow and a future first-round pick that should hold a lot of value over time. No one knows where any team will be 6-7 years from now, which gives Detroit plenty of time to capitalize on the Lakers’ pick in a future trade. If L.A. puts all that on the table and Grant is the best player they can get for it, other teams may be hard-pressed to outbid it.