Jeram Grant Trade Shows Trail Blazers Strategy

The Portland Trail Blazers traded Detroit Pistons forward Jenami Grant, probably the first of several summer moves to improve their roster. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a 2025 first-round conditional pick originally belonging to the Milwaukee Bucks is the primary direct asset to Detroit. That choice was gained in a mid-season deal with the New Orleans Pelicans last year. The move sent CJ McCollum and Larry Nance, Jr. to New Orleans.

Coming full circle, Portland eventually traded McCollum and Nance, Jr. for Grant and swingman Josh Hart, also a product of that craft.

Here is the instant reaction to the move and the likely fallout.

Defense just got better

Portland’s annual commitment to better defend the floor has become the equivalent of your child’s promises to clean the room. Sounds good, but it never gets done.

Grant is not on a defensive All-NBA level, but he is closer than anyone the Blazers have acquired in recent memory. His motility and availability are (almost) undisputed. He has no plans to block elite opponents, but Portland’s frontcourt now has the potential to be solid across the board with Grant (excellent defender), Jusuf Nurkic (good defender) and Nassir Little (growing defender) or Josh Hart (decent defender but underpowered as a small forward).

That mix-and-match attacking quartet won’t have much of an impact if Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons become sieves as the Lillard-McCollum duo often did. As is often said, 3/5 of a dam will not stop any of the rivers. But if the guards get stuck on the defensive side, or if Hart ends up playing as a shooting guard with Little (or another defensive attacker still on the way) on three points, Portland will field a mobile, active defensive unit around Lillard for the first. time since 2014.

The offense may not be fully transferred

Eyes will open to Grant’s average of 19.2 points last season, even more so to his 22.3 points per person the previous season. A pinch of skepticism is deserved. Sure, that 19.2 came with just 14.9 shots per game. It’s a reachable number in Portland. But Grant is no better than the third option in the Portland starting lineup, behind the guards. The percentage of use of him in that 22-point season was 28.5%. He is unlikely to see him in this lineup. His actual shooting percentages are ok (42.6% from the ground, 35.8% from distance) but not remarkable.

If Grant can return to the three-point score of 39% – recorded once in Oklahoma City and once in Denver – then his offense becomes immediately translatable. If he’s mediocre from the arc, negotiating the shots and floor space could become a work in progress, as it might take more volume than the Blazers can give him.

Break the wallet

There is a reason Grant was available for a commercial exception and a likely modest future first round. He wanted to get out of Detroit, but his request was leverage because his contract is running out and he’s going to want a big raise. By trading with Grant, it is implied that Portland will be willing to give it to him. This is not ironclad, of course, but it is likely.

Since the Blazers allegedly also reinstate Simons and Nurkic this off-season, the price of the starting line-up will be significant.

This will be an interesting test for Grant. Despite all his skills and his potential, he hasn’t been with any team for more than two and a half seasons. Portland will be his fifth team in nine years of service, only the second (after Detroit) to pay him big. How much are Blazers willing to engage with him and how firmly and effectively can he engage in return? These are open questions.

Health permitting

It is worth noting that Grant only played 47 games last year, 54 (out of 72) the previous season. He’s 28, right in his prime, so there’s no lingering concern about bouncing back. But Portland could use a solid 70-72 games from him, minimum. He has only reached 80 three times in his career. A decent bench still counts, even with this improvement in the starting line-up.

A relative theft

Assuming the Blazers are willing to pay Grant and it lasts more than a year, they have just acquired a defensive-minded veteran forward, ready to score, without burning their best off-season trading asset. If it is assumed that the seventh pick, Simons, Hart and Nurkic are all available at the right price, it is actually their fifth best asset at worst. It’s a good deal.

This could go wrong if Grant is chronically injured or if he only plays for a year at Portland. If none of these things happen, take your chances, spin the wheel and call it right. The cost is low.

Again, Grant’s acquisition at that price, which also included a pick swap that takes Portland from 36 to 46 in the second round of this year’s draft, makes McCollum’s previous swap far more reasonable than it was. on the surface.

What’s next?

Even at a low price, Grant isn’t enough, on his own, to turn Portland’s fortunes upside down. It’s a good first step, one that fans and Damian Lillard are likely to like. (Remember Grant played with Lillard on the Tokyo Olympics gold medal team.) These are important considerations for a team that needs a morale boost, but not the checkmate move in this off-season game.

Fortunately, Blazers still have resources to play with, especially that lottery pick. If they feel a fast-growing, high-impact rookie is available Thursday with Pick 7, they now have a little more confidence in using it on their own. With Grant starting as a forward, the young player could be expected to step off the bench instead of having to help the starting lineup, a much easier job description to fill in, with correspondingly longer time to develop.

This also makes it slightly more palatable for Blazers to consider swapping for a top notch rookie if they think they can get their hands on one. Throwing a striker or talent center into a talented and experienced starting lineup works.

It is equally likely, however, that Portland will continue to test the market, seeing what the current 7th pick can bring to market. Look, in particular, for any names of minor forwards who come forward. It is an easy assimilation. An agreement for a major center is still a possibility. The only hot name negatively impacted by the Grant deal would be John Collins. Since they both play forward naturally, it wouldn’t be a comfortable fit, at least on the surface. It’s not an absolute bar, but it would be curious.

For now, everything is still possible. This initial move that came easily, at modest cost, was important. Keeps the pitch alive for a second meaningful game. This is exactly what the Blazers were meant to do. Whatever you think of Grant’s ultimate utility as an individual, they made a smart strategic move by acquiring him.

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