ORLANDO, Fla. — Versatile forward Jerami Grant hasn’t played an NBA basketball game since Dec. 10, and when he did, it was for a Detroit Pistons squad that is again one of the league’s worst teams.
Still, the 27-year-old Grant is now one of the most sought-after talents in the league, with the NBA Trade Deadline quickly approaching. No fewer than 10 teams reportedly have interest in dealing for Grant, and that list seemingly grows every day, with teams such as the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks being hit hard along their frontlines by injuries.
What is it about the 6-foot-8 Grant that makes him such a coveted commodity? To hear his head coach tell it, the Pistons would be wise to hang onto the two-way standout and use in the rebuild around budding superstar and triple-double machine Cade Cunningham.
Before injuring his thumb, Pistons forward Jerami Grant had four 30-point nights
The rebuilding Detroit Pistons raised more than a few eyebrows in 2020 when they signed free-agent forward Jerami Grant to a three-year, $60 million deal. After all, Grant had averaged just 12 points and 3.5 rebounds in a reduced role the season prior with the Denver Nuggets.
GM Troy Weaver proved right away with one of his first moves with the Pistons that he knew what he was doing with the signing of Grant. In 2020-21, Grant took advantage of his increased opportunity in Detroit and boosted his scoring average to 22.3 points per game.
This season, Grant again leads the rebuilding Pistons in scoring (20.1 PPG), scoring at least 20 points 13 times and hitting the 30-point plateau four times. In what amounted to open auditions for a trade, Grant battered the Los Angeles Lakers for 36 and 32 points in two meetings, Houston for 35 points and Phoenix for 34 points.
Most importantly, Grant has meshed well with budding superstar Cade Cunningham. The top overall pick from last summer’s NBA Draft bounced back from a rough night in Orlando against Magic rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner and hung a triple-double on Cleveland.
Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey raves about Grant’s grace in handling trade rumors
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant saw his spectacular season hit a snag on Dec. 10 when he suffered a torn thumb ligament that required surgery to repair. Then, just as he was about to return, he battled a case of COVID-19 and spent time in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Rather than getting down about being injured and sick or bothered by trade rumors, Grant is an upbeat leader for the Pistons, head coach Dwane Casey said. Casey, who is trying to rebuild the Pistons the way he did the Toronto Raptors a decade earlier, went on and on while raving about Grant’s professionalism in the wake of so much turmoil.
“He’s older, he’s 27 now, so he’s seen trade rumors before, and he’s been a pro,” Casey said. “Jerami’s working his behind off with his COVID situation and with reconditioning his body, and he hasn’t had one moment of negative attitude or anything like that; he’s approached it like a pro.”
Casey said that Grant has been working out daily with development coach, John Beilein, to work his way back into game shape, and a return could come soon. When he’s talked to his team about the distractions the NBA Trade Deadline often bring, Casey has pointed to Grant as a model to follow.
“He’s been a trooper and a pro,” Casey said. “I tell our guys all the time that if you don’t see your name in the papers, then something is wrong. It’s a badge of honor that other teams and people are talking about you. It doesn’t mean that we’re out there shopping you, but Jerami’s been a pro with the whole situation.”
Which teams stand to benefit most from dealing for Grant at the NBA Trade Deadline?
So, which teams make the most sense to trade for Grant? Which teams could benefit most from adding a versatile forward who can capably guard three positions?
The New York Times reporter Marc Stein reports on Substack that Grant is a “preferred target” of the Utah Jazz. However, their bid might have ended with Joe Ingles going down with what looked to be a severe knee injury on Sunday night.
Dallas could use another potent scoring threat to assist superstar forward Luka Doncic. That need became greater after Tim Hardaway Jr. suffered a season-ending foot injury and Kristaps Porzingis missed Sunday’s loss in Orlando because of knee soreness. The Mavericks would almost certainly have to relinquish surprising guard Jalen Brunson to get Grant. Adding Brunson would give the Pistons another ball-handler who could allow Cunningham to play off screens occasionally.
Phoenix might view Grant as the piece to get it over the hump in its championship pursuit and could make Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, or even Deandre Ayton available in a trade.
There are also reports that Atlanta, Sacramento, Portland, New York, and the LA Lakers see Grant as “the grand prize at the deadline,” according to Bleacher Report.
Regardless of which team gets Grant, they will be getting a solid player and someone Detroit coach Dwane Casey considers to be an even better person and professional.
Unless otherwise attributed, Sportscasting.com Senior NBA writer John Denton obtained all quotes in the story firsthand.
Statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com.