The Blazers are retooling around Damian Lillard. Portland acquired forward Jerami Grant from the Pistons on Wednesday, sending back a 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) in return. Portland will also acquire a second rounder, while two other second rounders will be headed to Detroit. Grant, 28, averaged 19.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game for the Pistons last season. He also shot 35.8% from three on 5.4 attempts per game, but played in only 47 contests. Let’s grade the deal for each side.
This is essentially a no-brainer for Portland, particularly at the cost of a Bucks’ first rounder three years down the line. Though Grant seemingly went to the Pistons to be the team’s No. 1 option, he probably miscast himself in that role. He’ll be a very nice complementary piece next to Lillard. Portland has desperately needed long, athletic wings next to Dame who can also shoot and defend, and Grant fits the bill. With Josh Hart also occupying one of the wing spots—and perhaps another veteran who could be acquired in exchange for the No. 7 pick—the Blazers should have some nice floor balance they’ve lacked in recent years. Grant can play either forward position (while mostly playing the four), and perhaps slide to center in rare instances in super-small looks (though he’s not a great rebounder).
Grant should thrive playing off-ball from Lillard. He shot 36.2% on catch-and-shoot threes last season, already enough to keep a defense honest, and Dame should get him some even better looks moving forward. For now, Grant is signed only through 2023 for nearly $21 million, but after last season’s teardown, the Blazers have the flexibility to sign him on a deal that should both go through Grant’s prime and not muck up their cap sheet. Grant may not be as exciting a second star as CJ McCollum. Still, he’s a proven player who already has once succeeded playing off a ball-dominant star. With the Blazers needing some two-way wings and still having space to maneuver for more talent, this deal was a layup.
The return for Grant feels a little underwhelming for Detroit. At the same time, he was on an expiring deal and the Pistons avoided taking back any long-term salary with this move. Grant was simply not on the same timeline as Cade Cunningham and whoever Detroit ends up selecting with the No. 5 pick in Thursday’s draft. Moving Grant without adding any money to the books gives the Pistons a massive bump in cap space, which allows the organization to dip its toes in free agency or facilitate more trades that can stock the cupboard with more picks. It’s a sensible move for Detroit if not a sexy one.
Ultimately, the Pistons’ main concern is making sure they put together the right nucleus around a budding star in Cunningham. Grant didn’t make too much sense for that long-term plan, and now Detroit can be a bit more malleable in how it structures its current rebuild.
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