Pistons forward Jerami Grant is among the Celtics‘ top trade targets, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, the C’s and the Hornets are also among the teams interested in Magic center Nikola Vucevic.
It comes as no surprise that Grant and Vucevic would appeal to Boston. Grant has enjoyed a career year in Detroit so far, boosting his scoring average to 23.4 PPG in an expanded offensive role. Vucevic is playing the best basketball of his career too, averaging 24.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG on .483/.412/.851 shooting and earning his second All-Star berth for Orlando.
Both players also have salaries that would fit into the Celtics’ $28.5MM trade exception. Grant is earning $19MM, while Vucevic has a $26MM cap hit.
However, the odds of the Celtics actually acquiring either player before this year’s deadline seem slim, for multiple reasons. For one, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been averse to making major moves at the deadline over the years — since acquiring Isaiah Thomas at the 2015 deadline, his lone in-season trade has been a salary-dump of Jabari Bird in 2019.
Additionally, while the Pistons and Magic are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Grant and Vucevic are under contract for multiple years and appear to be cornerstone pieces for their respective teams.
Grant, who joined the Pistons in part because he wanted to play for a Black head coach and a Black GM, was the team’s top target in the offseason. According to James Edwards III of The Athletic, Detroit appears to have no interest in moving the 26-year-old, despite receiving interest and trade offers from several teams. Grant “embodies everything Detroit wants its culture to be about,” according to Edwards, who says the forward seems likely to stick with the team for as long as he wants to.
As for Vucevic, Charania says that rival teams believe any trade involving the big man would have to feature a “massive” return for the Magic. Vucevic also told Charania that there’s “something special” about being with the same franchise for a long and building a legacy there, which suggests he has no plans to ask the Magic to move him anytime soon.
If the Celtics do attempt to push for either player, they could offer an appealing combination of draft picks, salary relief, and prospects with upside, though they don’t have an up-and-coming young player who would be the obvious headliner of such a package.