Jerami Grant Declining His Option? What Teams Should Pursue Him

By Matt Esposito

Thanks to the Chris Haynes’ podcast and some subsequential, follow up reporting by Quenton Albertie, it appears as though Denver Nugget Jerami Grant will be declining his $9.3 million player option.

This comes on the heels of Grant’s two best seasons as a pro. After averaging 1.7 3-point attempts per game and hitting only 30.1 percent of them during his first four seasons, Grant has blossomed into a 39.6 percent perimeter shooter on 3.6 nightly attempts.

What’s more, the 25-year-old is entering his physical peak. Plus, the league is relying more upon forwards who can protect the paint during small ball lineups. Although the future cap situation is funky, Grant could be primed for a nice pay day due to his unique rim protection profile and above average outside shooting. So, which teams should be pursuing the rumored free agent?

The Case For The Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks want to win more games next year and compete for a playoff spot. They have an emerging young core, a superstar guard and cap space. Jerami Grant could fill a couple of needs for Atlanta.

Although the Hawks acquired Clint Capela, they will likely continue to experiment with John Collins at center during smaller lineups. Collin’s defense has improved yet, he is not a great paint deterrent. Grant could help clean up mistakes on defense. If Collins is dragged out onto the perimeter during pick and roll coverage, Grant has the length, footspeed and leaping ability to recover for help blocks, like the example below.

Atlanta should have enough space to offer Grant a salary bump from his previous $9 million a year earnings. He can play alongside either Capela or Collins, fits the Hawks’ competitive timeline and would be a good culture presence as well.

The Case For The Detroit Pistons

Atlanta finished last in the league for points allowed in the paint and Detroit is only three spots behind. While he cannot be a full time rim protector, Grant would fit seamlessly next to Blake Griffin in small ball rotations.

Detroit should have cap space to make Grant a nice offer as well. Running him next to the up and coming Sekou Doumbouya could make for a solid, long defensive lineup; one that could clean up the shortcomings of teammates. To boot, Detroit does not seem to be tanking. Adding Grant, in addition to one or two other pieces, could see the Pistons compete for a postseason bid next year.

The Case For The Indiana Pacers

Considering their salary cap, the Pacers could not likely sign Grant outright this offseason. Yet, many have speculated about the future of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

I went so far as to suggest that Grant could be the key to giving Sabonis more minutes at the five. Indiana could never replace the paint deterrence of Turner but, if they decide pairing him with Sabonis is untenable, then Grant could provide weak side rim protection. Finding a way to bring in Grant and then upgrading other roster parts by trading Turner could be the jolt Indiana needs right now.

The Case For The Brooklyn Nets

With their true title window beginning whenever Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant next take the court together, Brooklyn should be in the business of maximizing their championship odds. Adding a player like Jerami Grant could help and also help fans forget about the Taurean Prince trade.

Why? Although listed as a big by Cleaning the Glass, Grant spent 31 percent of his minutes at small forward this year and 67 percent of them at the four (according to basketball-reference.com. His ability so shift between forward positions could prove useful for a couple of reasons.

The Nets may look to help KD come back from his injury by having him guard bigs. Or, they could go the other route and test his limitations against quicker wings and forwards. Regardless, Grant can be inserted into the lineup to compliment either decision. Where there is a will there’s a way. If Grant wants in then expect Brooklyn management to exhaust every avenue to bring him in.

The Case For The Denver Nuggets

Mike Singer (awesome name alert) wrote an insightful piece regarding Grant’s time in Denver. Quotes from Grant’s head coach and his own father illuminated how meaningful the potential free agent is to Denver’s success.

Grant was described as a “swiss army knife” and it is surely accurate. Lineups with him, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Will Barton and Gary Harris could provide serious spacing and offensive versatility. Can Denver bring him back, however?

Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors was able to clarify the situation a little better: “If Grant does opt out, it won’t necessarily signal the end of his time in Denver. He and the Nuggets could still work out a new contract, as he alluded to in his comments to Haynes. With Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee also headed for the open market, the Nuggets would have to decide which frontcourt pieces they’ll prioritize in free agency.” It may prove wise for Denver to prioritize Grant due to his age and skill set.

Published by Matt Esposito

Founder/Writer for Theplaygrounder.com and contributor to Red’s Army Twitter: @Mattesposito_

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