It was a mild surprise when Jerami Grant was not traded by the Detroit Pistons during the most recent NBA Trade Deadline, but even at the time the smart money said he could just as easily be moved in the offseason.
That smart money appears to be ... smart money as The Athletic’s Shams Charania has a new rundown of the latest NBA intel and it includes a potential swap of Grant with the Portland Trail Blazers once the NBA Draft order is finalized.
The Blazers were one of the teams most seriously pursuing Grant during the deadline, and Grant was reportedly one of the most coveted assets that was reasonably available. When he stayed in Detroit the consensus thinking is that Detroit couldn’t get an offer good enough for them to pull the trigger.
The Blazers, apart from the reported interest, seemed like an obvious fit as they were not looking to bottom out and instead hoping to quickly retool around star point guard Damian Lillard. Grant fit the bill is a young-ish veteran who plays power forward and is a contributor on both sides of the floor. He also played with Lillard on Team USA in the Olympics and the two seemed to generate a rapport.
The reason the Blazers couldn’t get a deal done was also pretty plain to see — their potential draft assets are very much up in the air. As part of the CJ McCollum trade, the Blazers secured a first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans. But Portland only gets the pick if it falls between picks 5 and 14.
A McCollum-led run up the standings by the Pellies and Portland wouldn’t have had an attractive first-rounder to offer Detroit, and the Pistons are reportedly much more comfortable waiting for the standings to shake out and a guaranteed pick as opposed to a theoretical one.
Grant, it should be noted, is also extension-eligible and is looking to cash in on a $112 million deal this offseason. Otherwise, he has one final year at $20 million remaining on the pact he originally signed with Detroit.
That McCollum-led run by New Orleans never actually came to pass. The Pelicans are just 8-9 since McCollum joined the team. They currently sit in a tie for ninth in the standings and are a full six games back from Charlotte, which currently holds the 14th pick.
With only a little more than 10 games remaining, it is extremely likely the Pelicans (30-41) pick falls between 8 (currently held by San Antonio at 28-44) and 12 (currently held by Washington at 30-40).
The Pistons will be looking to add a difference-maker in the upcoming draft and currently hold the third-worst record in the NBA. That is Paolo Banchero/Jaden Ivey/AJ Griffin territory in the draft.
Sources indicate that the Pistons are also highly intrigued by Arizona shooting guard Benedict Mathurin.
Mathurin is currently the ninth-rated prospect on Tankathon and is having a strong run in the NCAA tournament.
Losing Grant would certainly hurt. It was the first major move by then-new GM Troy Weaver and the bond between Weaver and Grant is real. Both sides bet on each other and it has paid off for each.
However, coming out of the draft with some combination of a potential star wing and a power forward replacement for Grant would make sense for the Cade Cunningham-led Pistons alongside Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart.
Imagine leaving draft night with a Chet/Sochan combo or Jabari/Mathurin or even Griffin/Eason. Insert obligatory Jaden Ivey reference because we can’t forget him!