Jerami Grant has emerged as one of the NBA’s most desirable veteran trade chips, and the Detroit Pistons are answering the phone.
While there’s no guarantee Grant will be moved before the Feb. 10 deadline, now could be the best time for the Pistons to maximize a return for their standout forward. He’ll be eligible for an extension this offseason, and a team that makes a move for Grant would have him for at least two playoff runs. Here are three recent deals that outline what a Grant deal could bring the Pistons:
March 25, 2021: Answering a trade request
The deal: Orlando Magic trade Aaron Gordon to Denver Nuggets for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a protected 2025 first-round pick.
The Magic began a rebuild last March, flipping Nikola Vucevic to the Bulls, Evan Fournier to the Celtics and Gordon to the Nuggets for a bundle of assets. Gordon is probably closest to Grant’s situation with the Pistons, as a relatively young, athletic and versatile forward. (Gordon and Grant are also connected by proxy, as the Nuggets traded for Gordon to replace what they lost in Grant, who left Denver for Detroit in November 2020.)
Orlando’s return checked the same boxes the Pistons should be looking to fill. The Magic received a promising young player in Hampton, who was drafted 24th overall in 2020, and a veteran in Harris, who has started 30 games for the Magic this season. But it could take time for the trade to bear fruit for Orlando; Hampton hasn’t yet developed into a productive player. The 2025 first-round pick (top-five protected through 2027) is still at least three years away.
Ideally, the Pistons will get more immediate value if they choose to part ways with Grant. Gordon requested a trade out of Orlando, which might’ve put pressure on the Magic to get a deal done sooner rather than later. Grant hasn’t requested a trade and the Pistons won’t relinquish him for an offer that doesn’t move the needle. But acquiring a future first-round pick would be gigantic because it would allow the team flexibility it lacks: They currently are unable to trade any future first-round pick.
Like Grant, Gordon had 1½ years left on his contract at the time of the trade and, after the season, signed a four-year extension in Denver worth $87 million. Grant is reportedly seeking an extension this summer, when he is eligible for a four-year deal worth $112 million.
June 19, 2019: Can’t stop dealing
The deal: Memphis Grizzlies trade Mike Conley to Utah Jazz for Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, 23rd pick of 2019 draft and a protected 2020 first-round pick.
The Grizzlies have been one of the NBA’s biggest surprises this season. Ja Morant has made the leap to superstardom and Jaren Jackson Jr. is emerging as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as Memphis is becoming a contender less than three years after parting with one of a previous franchise player, Conley, right before the 2019 NBA draft.
Conley, then 31, had long been considered one of the NBA’s most underrated point guards and was coming off a strong season averaging a career-best 21.1 points and 6.4 assists. The strong haul Conley brought is a big reason why the Grizzlies have become one of the NBA’s best so quickly.
Receiving two firsts, a young player and a rotation player might be on the upper end of what a likely return for Grant will be. What’s important is what Memphis did after the trade: The Grizzlies then used the 23rd pick to trade up two spots for Brandon Clarke, who had a strong rookie season and is now a key rotation player. They sent Korver and a 2019 second-round pick (Jevon Carter) to the Phoenix Suns for De’Anthony Melton, Josh Jackson and two future second-round picks. Melton is now one of the Grizzlies’ best rotation players and signed a four-year deal worth nearly $35 million in November 2020. The 2020 second-round pick from Phoenix was used on MSU’s Xavier Tillman, another key rotation piece.
Allen shot 39.5% from 3-point range over two seasons in Memphis before he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for two more second-round picks. Crowder was a good player for the Grizzlies as well but was eventually packaged for Justise Winslow that didn’t work out for the Grizzlies. Utah still owes Memphis a top-six protected first-rounder that will likely convey this year.
The bottom line for Detroit is that acquiring players who can be converted into assets later is just as important as acquiring assets in the first deal. The Grizzlies did the additional work to maximize the return on their Conley trade and are reaping the rewards this season.
Jan. 13, 2022: The minimum return
The deal: Atlanta Hawks trade Cam Reddish and Solomon Hill to New York Knicks for protected 2022 first-round pick via Charlotte and Kevin Knox.
Reddish, the 10th pick in 2019, is a good shooter and defender with upside. Some expected Atlanta to get a bigger haul for Reddish, who requested a trade. He will be a restricted free agent in 2023.
The future first-rounder is protected 1-18 this season — Charlotte’s pick currently would be 18th and therefore would roll over to next season — and is protected 1-16 in 2023, 1-14 in 2024 and 1-14 in 2025, so it will end up in the mid-to-late teens at best.
Knox, drafted ninth overall in 2018, hasn’t been a rotation player this season. Atlanta’s haul represents the lower end of a potential Grant deal for the Pistons. Acquiring a first-round pick would be a win, but the Pistons should aim for a second promising asset as well.
Bonus deal: One other noteworthy trade to mention came before the 2020-21 season, when Portland acquired three-and-D forward Robert Covington from Houston for two first-round picks and Trevor Ariza. At the time, Covington had two years and $25 million left on his contract.