Saddiq Bey Is Providing an Answer to the Pistons’ $112 Million Jerami Grant Problem

Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey is on a tear of late, and it’s providing an answer to Jerami Grant’s future: Detroit can trade Grant thanks to Bey’s progression.

The forward was the subject of various trade rumors in the months leading up to the NBA trade deadline. Of course, the Pistons kept Grant, who’s a free agent after next season and up for a $112 million contract extension.

Bey was an under-the-radar player in the 2020 NBA Draft, as the Pistons selected him with the 19th overall pick. The Villanova product had a plausible rookie season — one he has built on in the 2021-22 NBA season. 

Saddiq Bey has been a pleasant development for the Detroit Pistons 

Bey is averaging 16.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 39.8/35.0/81.9 across 33.9 minutes per game this season. He also recently dropped a whopping 51 points on the Orlando Magic earlier in March. 

Bey makes an impact on both ends of the floor. The willing and effective shooter can get points off the dribble and defends well. One could argue Bey has been the Pistons’ best player from start to finish this season. He has started every game, been a vital source of offense, and made strides across the board. 

Although they’re the 14th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons do have compelling young players to work with, including Bey. Rookie Cade Cunningham has held his own and flashed upside. He’s creating his own shot, finding his teammates for easy buckets, hitting the boards, and serving as a leading scorer for a young team.

Big man Isaiah Stewart is a reliable interior player on both ends. Marvin Bagley III has had his moments. It could make sense for the Pistons to re-sign him on a short-term deal. Grant isn’t necessarily getting in the way of these players. That said, the mere reality that Bey continues to blossom and has a similar build as Grant — Grant has a mere inch on Bey, while the latter has a mere five pounds on the former — renders the veteran’s presence unnecessary.

It makes more sense for a team that’s rotting at the bottom of its conference to move forward with a second-year Bey than a proven commodity in Grant. Fast forward to the offseason: Grant is on an expiring contract. He’s a two-way player who defends well, finds nifty ways to score, and is 28. That’s appealing for any playoff team. 

Trading Jerami Grant is in the Detroit Pistons’ best interest

Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey of the Detroit Pistons embrace beating the Boston Celtics
Detroit Pistons teammates Jerami Grant (L) and Saddiq Bey | Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Pistons face more changes on the horizon even without a Grant trade. In all likelihood, they will select in the top five of this year’s NBA draft. This means they will presumably add another building block like Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, or Duke’s Paolo Banchero.

Detroit’s return on Grant could become even more depth for its young nucleus. One figures they get a first-rounder and a talented young player who has perhaps fallen out of a team’s rotation. 

Plus, the Pistons project to have roughly $26 million in cap space and could clear another $21 million by moving Grant. They could use the money on an impactful youngster or a rising player like Miles Bridges or Deandre Ayton.

Cunningham has the potential to be a franchise floor general. Bey is on a career trajectory where he could be a more efficient version of Grant. Why not clear the way for Bey to become a more integral part of the equation and trade Grant rather than losing him for nothing in free agency? 

Grant isn’t the reason for the Pistons’ struggles; he has been a good player on a deeply entrenched rebuilding team. That said, the Pistons have been one of, if not the worst team in the NBA over the last two seasons. How can they be any worse record-wise without him? 

Getting in the habit of trading reliable veterans can be dangerous for a team struggling mightily to win games. That said, trading Grant is the prudent play from both a basketball and financial point of view. Bey continues to improve and is under team control for at least two more seasons. The franchise needs to make room for the arrival of a blue-chip prospect.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference. Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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