With the start of the NBA Finals this week, 28 other teams are recalibrating. The NBA draft lottery earlier this month helped half the league’s situation, setting the stage for what should be an unpredictable offseason.
The Pistons are one of those teams that has the potential to get a little crazy this summer. The team has the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, has considerable cap space available for free agency, and forward Jerami Grant is one of the most realistic trade chips in the league. However, Grant’s potential availability remains a mystery. Detroit general manager Troy Weaver wasn’t surprised when the team asked at last year’s trade deadline, so he opted to keep Grant on for the entire season. Now, Weaver and company have the option of extending Grant’s current contract with one year remaining, or accepting more potential trade packages for his services, which should be more concrete and interesting at this stage of the NBA calendar.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been the team with the most ties to Grant over the past few months, and they remain one of the teams most interested in acquiring Grant through a trade, according to sources. The Blazers, who fell to the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, seem more interested in “restructuring” around Damian Lillard than in a full-blown rebuild. It’s possible they could use this pick to find a more established entity to place next to their soon-to-be 32-year-old star.
But what if Portland doesn’t trade the No. 7 pick or use it to acquire someone other than Grant?Who is Grant’s other potential suitors?
One candidate makes more sense than anyone else: the Atlanta Hawks. After shocking the world with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, Atlanta had a disappointing season the following season, falling into the playoffs and culminating in a five-game first-round loss to the Miami Heat. The Eagles will of course need to make some adjustments to get back to where they think they belong on the timeline.According to sources, Atlanta has shown some form of interest in Grant in the 2021-22 season, and sports Think the benefits still exist.
The Athletic’s beat writers Chris Kirshner (Hawks) and James L. Edwards III (Pistons) discuss the two teams’ interest in a potential trade involving Grant, what it might look like, and whether Grant would be a good fit Atlanta and more. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity
Edwards: Let’s start here, Chris: I heard the Hawks were interested in Grant at the deadline and remain interested. what did you hear?
Kirschner wire: It was a few months ago, but at some point before the deadline, they were interested in him. They dropped out of the game as the actual deadline drew closer. Fast forward to the present, and interest reappears.
The 2022 playoffs have shown the Hawks front office that they need more wing players to create shots off the dribble. Miami’s defense swallowed Trae Young and allowed Atlanta to beat them with anyone else, but they couldn’t. Eagles owner Tony Ressler has said publicly that his team wants to add some ball handlers who can defend, another problem the Eagles faced last season. Grant can do both.
Plus — and that’s important — he’s probably the most accessible player on the trade market. Many will focus on famous free agents like Zach LaVine or DeAndre Ayton — both of whom can only go to Atlanta on a sign-and-trade — but their respective teams can Offer as much money as possible with the highest contract. That limits the chances of anyone else landing, including the Eagles.
If the Hawks are going to pursue Grant this offseason, they have two players whose salaries match the Pistons’ potential trades: Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. Bogdanovic is younger, but he also has a worrisome knee problem that has lingered all season and is expected to resolve in the summer. Gallinari has an expiring contract that’s guaranteed $5 million if he’s cut before June 29, so Detroit can create extra cap space as needed, or they can let him into the season and trade him later. The Hawks will likely have to give up the team’s No. 16 pick as well, which seems realistic since I don’t think the team will add a rookie midway through the first round.
Have you heard about Grant’s interest? What are the Pistons looking for if/when they trade him?
Edwards: I think teams like Portland, Atlanta and Memphis (if it wants to do something) make the most sense.each has Playoff aspirations and nice trade assets. As far as I can tell, the first two actually showed interest in Grant in some capacity. As mentioned, the Blazers don’t seem interested in a long-term rebuild, and Grant is the kind of player they’ve needed over the years. The Hawks want to win now, and they can use a long, defensive wing who can also create his own shot. Grant might play the 3 instead of the 4 in Atlanta, but I think that would be fine. The Grizzlies don’t have to do anything, but they have the assets and a playoff-ready team to make the move if they want to.
I think Weaver’s best-case scenario is for teams to “wow” him with an offer, at least relative to Grant’s ability as a player. A top-10 pick (Portland) would do it, and I feel like the Pistons are holding on to see if that possibility is realistic. I think this will be their first choice. If not, a good player and a mid-first-round pick should suffice.
Now let’s get started. I’ll make the most meaningful trades, and I’m sure I’ll gain some traction as a Pistons plan B or C.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Grant’s No. 16 pick.
Atlanta does this, right?
Kirschner wire: I agree. That’s not an exorbitant price, the Hawks already have some players like Bogdanovic on their roster, Kevin Huerter, who was the better of the two last season and was one A better defender. Adding Grant in place of Bogdanovic would balance Atlanta’s roster, and it was necessary. The Hawks might prefer to make this trade with Gallinari rather than Bogdanovic, but the price is not bad. Bogdanovic and Grant’s No. 16 also gives the Eagles a lot of flexibility to make other big moves in the offseason, which they are willing to do if the opportunity arises.
Edwards: Grant is seeking an extension. Do you think Atlanta will give him?
Kirschner wire: For the Eagles, this is where things get complicated. For the first time since Ressler bought the team in 2015, they have faced luxury tax issues.did grant make a difference That a lot of? I think he makes the Hawks better, but he and his reps might demand a deal that pays him like a first or second choice. If that was the case, if I were general manager Travis Schlenk, I don’t think I would have made such a move.
If the Hawks can sign Grant to a long-term deal similar to his current annual salary in Detroit — roughly $20 million a year — they should. If he’s making more than $25 million per season, it’s a bit of a risk.
He plans to make $21 million in 2022-23, so if the trade is for Bogdanovic and No. 16, he won’t affect the Eagles’ luxury tax bill this year. Still, for what the Hawks are trying to accomplish, they’ll end up paying taxes. They need better talent, and higher salaries will follow. It’s just about finding the right players to justify paying taxes.
Have you heard about the salary Grant is looking for in a potential extension? Also, I know this has come up in the past, but what kind of role do you think he wants? Because if he was with the Hawks, he obviously wouldn’t be the team’s first choice. If he wants to be No. 2, I guess the Hawks will try to find a better player.
Edwards: The feeling I got was that Grant wanted a four-year, $112 million deal, the highest possible extension he could reach. That’s about $28 million a year, which is more than your suggested “adventure” for the Eagles. Of course, any player wants as much as possible.
Now, if he’s negotiating with a team like the Hawks, that’s probably not the number he wants, and unless things go completely bad, the Hawks will feel like a playoff ball for the duration of his next contract team. Maybe he’d be willing to devote less energy to contributing outside of the Pistons, which are moving forward with hope but still in the “recovery” phase.
How do you think Grant would fit into the Hawks’ 3 rather than the 4, which is where he primarily plays in Detroit?
Kirschner wire: The Hawks must upgrade their starting small forward spot. De’Andre Hunter’s performances throughout the year haven’t inspired confidence that he should lock in the position next season. Grant is now a better player than Hunter, but the latter has a higher ceiling.
I don’t think the Hawks should waive Hunter, who is eligible for an extension this offseason. But they shouldn’t rush to give him a long-term deal either. Hopefully, a healthy offseason will return Hunter to the form he was in before the meniscus tear at the start of the 2019-20 season. If he can’t get back to that level and end up playing like this season, he’ll end up being the seventh or eighth man on a championship team. In short, Hunter’s presence on the roster shouldn’t stop the Eagles from pursuing any potential upgrades that could overlap with his spot.
Any final thoughts on what’s going to happen to Grant this offseason?
Edwards: I’m still 50-50 if he stays or leaves. Keeping him makes sense if the Pistons want to make the playoffs next year, and it makes sense in terms of long-term roster building if they end up picking Benedict Maturin or Shayton Sharp in the draft . If Keegan Murray is drafted, or one of Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero drops to No. 5, it doesn’t make sense to keep Grant. In the end, none of this matters because the Pistons may decide they don’t want to pay Grant after this season given the state of their current franchise.
However, I think there will be legitimate trade proposals on the table for the Pistons to seriously think about. As I mentioned earlier, I already knew Detroit was waiting to see if the Blazers would put No. 7 on the table. I also feel, as you have done, that the deal I propose to you (No. 16 for Bogdanovic and Grant) has been discussed in some capacity, either softly or strongly.
In the end, such a trade fits what Weaver said a few weeks ago when asked about building a roster in the offseason:
Weaver on whether the trade market is a better path to team building than Detroit’s free agency: “I like to trade. Free agency can be a little tricky. Either way, I feel good about our process. People think that Jerami is Overpaid, take Rhodes…” lol
— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) April 12, 2022
Bogdanovic ticked the boxes Detroit needed to tick. He’s likely to be under contract for two seasons, and honestly, he’s a great offensive player, as good as any guard the Pistons can reasonably acquire in free agency this summer.
It feels like we’re gearing up for an interesting offseason.
(Top photo of Jerami Grant and John Collins: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)