As the NBA trade deadline approaches next month, the rumor mill will start to churn out fine, powdery morsels of potential player movement around the league. It is a time of speculation, where we all need to be careful of verifying the blue checkmarks on Twitter. And be ESPECIALLY careful considering the Pistons have one of the most sought-after players on the trade wire in Jerami Grant.
The news on Grant and his potential trade out of Detroit has been speculated heavily since he injured his thumb, an ailment that will keep him on the shelf for a while longer. But that has not stopped the rumors from flowing. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and New York Knicks are among several teams interested in acquiring Grant. The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, each looking to upgrade for the playoff run, should also be contenders for the 27-year-old’s services.
We have already looked at the case for why the Pistons should not trade Jerami Grant, and there are merits to it. But the Pistons are in a unique position with such a hot commodity player. Detroit has the opportunity to really start a bidding war amongst teams and drive up the desperation. The Pistons should be looking for a package comparable to what the Orlando Magic received for Aaron Gordon last year. That was Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a top-five protected first-round pick. Anyone acquiring Grant will likely need to also accept the fact they will be giving him a contract extension next offseason, so future cap space will impact things. Two teams can present more interesting trade packages than the rest: Atlanta and Chicago. And if they engage the Pistons on trade discussions, Troy Weaver should stick around on the phone and see what they can get in return.
The Hawks are up to something. After dealing Cam Reddish for a (protected) first-round pick, they appear to be gathering assets for another, more substantial move. Acquiring Grant would fill several needs for the Hawks, namely getting a versatile defender and quality offensive weapon. The Hawks are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, ranking 28th in the league in points given up per 100 possessions. They do not create turnovers (29th in NBA) and allow an effective field goal percentage of 54.4 (27th in the NBA). Grant can defend the perimeter and the rim, two areas in which the Hawks are exceptionally poor. He can fit nicely on the offense too, displaying some new tools last season as an isolation scorer and mid-range shooter. Plus, if Atlanta is willing to revamp more of the roster, they could likely get Grant without trading the disgruntled John Collins and instead move him for someone else.
An offer of Onyeka Okongwu or De’Andre Hunter, a salary filler like Danilo Gallinari, and a pick would work. Okongwu and Hunter are good defenders, the former being the exact pick-and-roll threat the Pistons crave. Hunter’s ceiling is dependent on his growth as an offensive player. He has declined a bit on mid-range shots while being a better three-point shooter, a good trade-off. He is a little older at 24-years-old, making him inferior to some other prospects the Pistons could get back. Would the Hawks trade three assets for one? It is possible considering the pressure to make it back, deep into the playoffs.
Chicago is a unique and intriguing option. They have wildly exceeded expectations and look like a threat to come out of the East, which would only be enhanced by getting Grant. He can play off of others, is switchable on defense, and can put the ball on the deck if needed (even if he has not been particularly good in isolation this season). He is a grown-up version of the injured Patrick Williams, who was lost very early in the season due to a dislocated wrist. If the Bulls are looking to push themselves from “really good” to borderline “great”, acquiring Jerami Grant would accomplish that. For the Pistons, Williams should be the target in this scenario. He is a strong defender and capable offensive weapon that the Pistons already liked in the 2020 NBA Draft. He blocks shots, avoids getting into foul trouble, plays excellent perimeter defense, and hit 40% of his three-pointers last season. That checks all of the boxes for the Pistons in terms of need, while also getting a younger player that fits the timeline.
Williams and someone like Derrick Jones Jr. for Grant works out, and the Pistons get another cornerstone player to build around. But the Bulls appear reluctant, for now, to include their first-round pick from last year. Coby White looks to be more available, but Detroit does not need another point guard even if he has turned a corner offensively. The Pistons should hold firm on Patrick Williams.
We can lump some of the other interested teams into a pile as “possible but unlikely”. The Pacers are one of the more fascinating teams to watch at the deadline with many movable players. Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, Caris LeVert, and Jeremy Lamb are all seemingly available, giving Indiana a good opportunity to hit the reset button. Turner would be attainable, fit the Pistons timeline, and could be swapped for Grant, but them getting a win-now player like Jerami does not make a whole lot of sense.
The Sacramento Kings are rightfully interested in Grant given they want to compete for the play-in tournament. But what would a trade like that look like? De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Tyrese Halliburton are probably not available. A package of Marvin Bagley III plus picks and salary filler is not the most competitive compared to other teams.
The Knicks are where they were last year: hovering around .500 and in need of something more to push them over the top. While they did just trade for Cam Reddish, Grant would be the big prize. In terms of return, think Miles McBride, Kemba Walker (for salary), and Obi Toppin as possible pieces coming back to Motown. Toppin is intriguing as an uber-athletic power forward to pair with the young backcourt, but Detroit is staring at a high lottery pick in a draft loaded with talent at power forward.
Given the Blazers precarious predicament with Lillard, them showing interest in Grant is fitting. This year is a wash for Portland though, so trading for Jerami would be for next year when the team sets its sights on the playoffs. They have some intriguing players like Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons, but other teams can put together more intriguing trade packages. Ditto for the Los Angeles Lakers, who really only have Talen Horton-Tucker as a chip. They would need a third team to help facilitate additional assets to the Pistons. It is more likely that the Lakers work around the margins and pray that Russell Westbrook improves his efficiency and Anthony Davis returns to stabilize the defense. Washington is playing above average and, given the core of Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie, getting Grant would certainly solidify them as a playoff team if not this year then next. Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Corey Kispert all make sense for the Pistons with the former two as the most enticing options. But Washington has been a “greater than the sum of their parts” kind of team so it is unclear what they would be willing to move on from.
Sure, trading Jerami Grant is a bummer. Fans will not like it, especially considering how he wanted to be in Detroit and play for Troy Weaver and Dwane Casey. Those kinds of players will be few and far between. But it makes sense if teams are competing for his services and are willing to sweeten deals with additional players or picks. If the Hawks and Bulls are willing to part with good young players like Patrick Williams, De’Andre Hunter, or Onyeka Okongwu, Detroit should consider discussing a trade.
Is it fun trading away talented players? No, it is definitely not. But the Pistons should examine its options thoughtfully regardless.
(All stats from Cleaning the Glass unless otherwise specified)
(Featured image by Gerald Herbert/AP)