There may be things that pop up throughout the course of the offseason that trump it, but as of April 10, re-signing Jerami Grant should be at the top of Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin’s to-do list.
It appears he might be in the process of putting a checkmark in that box already, though, based on Grant’s comments after the team’s regular-season finale.
The 29-year-old wing became a critical piece for the Blazers this season, both offensively and defensively. If Portland is going to begin the 2023-24 campaign with legitimate playoff aspirations, Grant needs to be a part of it – and it sounds like he wants to be.
Jerami Grant seems set on returning to the Trail Blazers next year
Grant averaged 20.5 points this season, the second-highest of his career next to the year he landed with the Detroit Pistons with the goal of becoming a team’s leading offensive option.
He shot a career high 40.1 percent from three on nearly six attempts per game, also his second-most behind that 2020-21 Pistons season. He was efficient from inside the arc as well, connecting on 47.5 percent of his 14.5 field goal attempts a night.
He became a critical piece of Portland’s offense next to Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. Depending on who was in the lineup and who got hot, there were games where Grant was the Blazers best or second-best offensive option.
The stats don’t jump off the page, but the 6-foot-8 forward was perhaps Portland’s most important defensive player as well. Lillard and Simons are small offensive-minded guards, while Jusuf Nurkic missed a large chunk of time as the Blazers’ last line of defense. Drew Eubanks played hard in his stead, but he’s not exactly a feared NBA rim protector.
That made Grant’s athleticism, length, and perhaps most importantly, his versatility to guard multiple positions, indispensable to what head coach Chauncey Billups wanted to do on that end of the floor.
Regardless of what other moves Portland makes this summer, bringing Grant back to fill the same role is critical, and he seems like he’s ready to sign a long-term deal and set up shop in Rip City.
As The Athletic’s Jason Quick added in his season-concluding piece, Grant said:
"“I definitely like it here. I’m looking forward to the talks and trying to figure something out. I definitely feel comfortable here.“It’s a family setting,” Grant said. “Just being here for this year, I’ve been able to become really close friends with a lot of people on the team, a lot of the staff, lot of people here. And I think for me, that’s a huge part of where you want to work, who you want to be around all year, for the next five years or whatever it might be. I think that’s the biggest thing.’’"
An immediate understanding that Jerami will be returning, at one price or another, kicks an important offseason off on just about the highest of notes.
Now it’s just a matter of continuing to find the right fits alongside what Cronin and Lillard view as Portland’s true core.