After a strong showing in the playoffs, Nuggets forward Jerami Grant is expected to turn down his $9.3MM player option in favor of free agency. A recent report from Mike Singer of The Denver Post indicated that there appears to be mutual interest in a new deal between the Nuggets and Grant, who could command upwards of $14-16MM per year.
However, Denver is expected to face stiff competition for Grant’s services. According to Singer, the Pistons, Suns, and Hawks are among the clubs that are expected to express interest in the forward once free agency begins.
As Singer notes, Detroit and Atlanta will have plenty of cap room available, and Phoenix has a path to open up space as well. All three teams could make contract offers worth significantly more than the mid-level (projected to be worth about $9.3MM).
Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and Suns head coach Monty Williams are both former Thunder employees, so they’re very familiar with Grant, who played in Oklahoma City from 2016-19 before being traded to the Nuggets last July. The Hawks have no obvious connection to the 26-year-old through their front office or coaching staff, but he’d be a nice fit on a squad that had the NBA’s third-worst defensive rating this season.
Of course, the Nuggets will hold Grant’s Bird rights, allowing them to go over the cap to make a competitive offer for the former Syracuse standout. Head coach Michael Malone told reporters today that Grant is “a big part of our future,” as Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com relays.
Grant averaged 12.0 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .478/.389/.750 shooting in 71 games (26.6 MPG) for the Nuggets in 2019/20 and became a full-time starter in the postseason as the team made a run to the Western Conference Finals. His outside shooting ability and defensive versatility will make him one of this offseason’s most popular free agents.
It’s worth noting that the Suns and Pistons are also expected to have interest in free agent point guard Fred VanVleet, while Phoenix and Atlanta have been linked to sharpshooter Davis Bertans. The Hawks can afford to pursue multiple top free agents, but the Suns and Pistons are less likely to fit two pricey new contracts in under the cap. If they go after another top free agent like VanVleet or Bertans instead, that could take one of Grant’s potential suitors out of the mix.