Last week a report from the Denver Post cited the Detroit Pistons as one of three teams, along with the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, that was expected to pursue Denver Nuggets free agent, Jerami Grant, in free agency this offseason. Grant had a phenomenal season with the Nuggets before he and Denver were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The combo forward averaged 12 points per game, along with 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 47.8 FG% and 38.9 3FG%.
Grant has a $9.3 million player-option that he has a decision on, but it is fully anticipated that he will decline the option and become an unrestricted free agent.
After such a productive season, in which Grant shined for one of the best teams in the league on both ends of the floor, the 26-year old is looking at a significant payday.
“A league source suggested Grant could command anywhere from $14 million to $16 million annually over several years.”
It’s worth noting that Grant was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder when new Pistons’ general manager Troy Weaver was still a member of the OKC front office.
The Pistons are projected to have about $30 million in cap space this offseason, among the league leaders in cap room. It’s the first time Detroit has made significant money to spend since they signed Josh Smith in July of 2013. But whether Detroit wants to admit it or not, this time around is very different compared to the 2013 offseason, which very notably turned out to be awful for the franchise(Smith was waived in December of 2014, and the team just finished paying him out the remainder of his salary). The Pistons are entering a rebuild. Outside of Blake Griffin, who’s health remains an everlasting concern, and Derrick Rose, another player who’s effectiveness coincides directly with his availability, Detroit is a rather young team. They roster the youngest player in the NBA until the draft in November in forward Sekou Doumbouya. Other key roster components such as Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, and Svi Mykhailiuk are all 24 years old or younger.
And there’s Christian Wood, who just turned 25 years old last week, and was the team’s best player by the time it was all said and done last year. Wood is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will have a bevy of suitors lined up waiting to pitch him on their franchise. Detroit is going to have to spend a chunk of their change just to retain Wood, if he decides he’d like to continue his career in the Motor City. While the Pistons theoretically could spend their $30 million and then go over the cap to re-sign Wood, that is not a good idea for a franchise on the outside looking in at competing.
Detroit should be using their money to take cheap fliers on young prospects that haven’t been able to piece everything together but are worthy of another chance or to acquire draft capital from other teams that come attached with bad contracts. Grant doesn’t fit that bill.
It also doesn’t bode well for Detroit that piecing Grant onto the Pistons’ roster would be like trying to place a square peg in a round hole. The Pistons are pretty much set with their minutes distribution at the two forward spots. Sekou Doumbouya should receive a hefty amount of minutes at both the three and the four. If healthy, Blake Griffin will be the focal point of the offense while manning the power forward position. Detroit still has $12 million committed to Tony Snell, who was the team’s starting small forward for 57 games last season. Christian Wood also spent nearly half of his minutes on the court last season at the four, although the majority of his minutes towards the end of the season came at center following the trade that sent Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There just isn’t a role for Grant on Detroit’s current roster.
Grant fits best as a complementary piece on a contending team. The Nuggets would be wise to retain his talents. He played a large role for them defending the opposing team’s best wing throughout their playoff run and stepped up on offense in the Orlando bubble. It wouldn’t be surprising to see other perennial playoff teams work their way into the fold of trying to acquire Grant.
There is no doubt that Jerami Grant is a good player, but it is best for both him and the Detroit Pistons if the two parties did not work together. The Pistons are in a rebuild and should not be spending money on a player that would cost as much as Grant will as well as a player that would not have a true role on the team.