Jerami Grant is coming off a productive and encouraging season with the Denver Nuggets. Averaging 12.0 points per game while shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc and playing considerable all-around defense, he was a valuable fixture in head coach Mike Malone’s rotation.
While his productivity decreased with more playing time in the playoffs (he averaged 26.6 minutes per contest in the regular season, compared to 34.4 minutes per contest in the playoffs), Grant still provided the Nuggets with an athletic and reliable “three-and-d” player.
In the likely scenario he opts out of his $9.3 million 2020-21 salary, Grant hits the open market, albeit there are reports that he’s expected to re-up in Denver. That said, nothing is a given with NBA contracts.
Here are four teams that should look to sign Grant in NBA free agency.
4) New York Knicks
The Knicks own the eighth pick in next month’s NBA Draft. In the scenario they select a point guard, signing Grant would help fill a void.
New York needs perimeter shooting and defense. Grant could make an impact both in the starting five and off the bench. If he gets the starting nod, Grant can help stretch the floor for the Knicks backcourt, which would presumably be the point guard they take at eight and RJ Barrett.
Grant’s defense bodes well with new head coach Tom Thibodeau, who makes it no secret that he wants his teams to be founded on defensive effort. If Grant comes off the bench, he provides the Knicks with bench scoring and a player to help keep the ball rolling defensively; he can cover big men and isolation forwards.
On the whole, he fits well in whatever offensive structure they side with in the offseason, whether it be sticking with their young point guards (Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr.) and putting the onus on the wing/forward rotation or selecting an energetic lead guard.
3) Sacramento Kings
Things aren’t exactly dandy with the Kings at this moment. Buddy Hield has supposedly “soured” on head coach Luke Walton, Bogdan Bogdanovic is a free agent this offseason, and Marvin Bagley’s NBA career has been a rollercoaster. Case in point: the Kings could use some help out on the perimeter.
Despite the likes of the above individuals and De’Aaron Fox, the Kings finished the regular season 22nd in the NBA in points per game (110.1). They need all the scoring they can get. Grant can be utilized as a slasher and a pick-and-shooter, if you will. Plus, his defensive prowess furthers their respectability on that end of the floor.
If Hield is traded and Bogdanovic is re-signed, Grant gives Fox a perimeter shooter to kick the ball outside to if he’s trapped. If Hield remains and Bogdanovic departs, Grant can come off the bench and play starting minutes, providing bench shooting and scoring to balance out those in the starting five.
Grant can also push Bagley and veteran forward Harrison Barnes, who’s one year into a four-year, $85 million deal. Competition can bring out the best in everyone. In a stacked Western Conference, you need all the depth you can get.
2) Detroit Pistons
No matter the direction they go with the seventh pick in the draft, Jerami Grant makes sense for the Pistons.
Yes, Luke Kennard is a plausible outside scorer, and Sekou Doumbouya has just one NBA season under his belt. With that said, the Pistons need help across the board, and Grant does a little bit of everything. He would give them more solidified outside shooting, a bit of a scoring jolt, and another forward to add to the arsenal, as they continue to look for a franchise point guard.
Blake Griffin has been crippled by injuries in recent memory, and Christian Wood is a free agent; Griffin’s injury woes could drag on and some team could blow the Pistons out of the water on an offer for Wood this offseason. They have to be prepared for these possibilities.
With a lot of playing time to offer, Grant could have a career year in the Motor City, becoming more of an off-the-dribble player and therefore a better overall player. With the Nuggets, he was the at-best fourth source of offense. With the Pistons, he could be the second or third source of offense. It could be a risk worth taking for both parties.
1) Oklahoma City Thunder
Would Jerami Grant return to the team that traded him a year ago? That is unknown. Would Grant be a fit with his old team? Yes, he would.
The Thunder don’t have the cap space to sign Grant, however, there are rumors that Chris Paul, who’s due roughly $41.4 million next season, could be on the move. Plus, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder are a year away from free agency; they could each be traded this offseason, too. One or more of these players being traded opens up cap space for Grant, who would quickly find a home in Oklahoma City’s rotation.
Outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there aren’t any set-in-stone roles for the youngsters in this rotation like Luguentz Dort, Hamidou Diallo, and Darius Bazley. Grant would start from the get-go. His defense would help set the tone while serving as an outside shooter and athletic forward for an offense that could be getting its first licks at considerable playing time.
Playing a significant role on both ends of the floor, this would be Jerami Grant’s chance to shine as the team’s number two or three source of offense. Money and playing time are a fun combination for an NBA player.