The Portland Trail Blazers are off to a solid 4-11 start to the 2023-24 season. That “solid” is only partial sarcasm for a team aiming to grab the best possible odds at the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft – so losing games isn’t the worst thing for this year's Blazers team.
There have certainly been bright spots for Rip City, however. Though he’s fallen back to Earth the last few weeks, Shaedon Sharpe is showing how much his game has improved from last year to this year. Injuries to Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons have thrust Skylar Mays into an important role, and the 26-year-old has shown he belongs in an NBA rotation.
Second-round rookie Toumani Camara has locked down a forward spot, Deandre Ayton is playing better as he gets incorporated into head coach Chauncey Billups’ offense, and Malcolm Brogdon is proving to be an invaluable veteran stabilizer.
No Trail Blazer has played as well as Jerami Grant, though. The 29-year-old has been Portland’s best and most consistent player. He’s 22nd in the league in scoring in November and is following up the best 3-point shooting season of his career by draining 46.2 percent of his 7.1 attempts from deep per game through this year’s first 15 contests.
The Blazers surprised a wide chunk of the NBA by re-signing Grant to a five-year, $160 million deal last offseason despite moving on from Damian Lillard. That’s a massive amount of money owed to a player who’s never made an all-star team.
What is Jerami Grant’s trade value?
The wiry 6-foot-7 forward would be useful to a contending team: He’s playing the best basketball of his career and proved last season that he’s willing to play third fiddle to two bigger stars.
As the Blazers continue to tank, he’s certainly expendable from a Portland perspective. But how much could the franchise get in return for an above-average player in the first year of a mammoth contract? If the answer isn’t a lot, would it still be worth getting off his salary, letting another young player take his minutes and help the losses pile up this season?
If Portland General Manager Joe Cronin decides the answer to that question is yes, here are three trades he should already be exploring.
Important note: Grant isn’t available to be traded until Jan. 15. This season's trade deadline is Feb. 3.
Trade No. 1: Portland sends Grant to an East contender
The Trail Blazers should ask teams for more draft capital than this, perhaps even another first-round pick. Whether or not they'll get it is up for debate given Grant's aforementioned contract and third-star status.
In this scenario, the Blazers and Sixers essentially match salaries, and Portland gets Philly's unprotected first-round pick in 2028. It can be added to the franchise's stable of future picks that are heavily backloaded to 2028, 2029 and 2030.
Morris has an expiring $17 million contract and Reed is a serviceable backup center who could help now and in the future with Robert Williams III's injury issues.
The 76ers, meanwhile, don't quite get the third star they're looking for, but they get a player who would slot in seamlessly between Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
Embiid is the reigning league MVP, and Maxey has been a revelation this year now that he's out of James Harden's shadow. The 23-year-old guard is averaging 25 points and 7 assists on 45/37/90 shooting splits and is on track for at least an all-star berth if not a spot on one of the three all-NBA teams.
Grant's role as a tertiary scoring option and spot-up shooter would play well next to those two. He and current Philly forward Tobias Harris are versatile enough to share the floor together and float between the three and four positions, giving head coach Nick Nurse a morphable starting quartet with two stars and two of the league's best role players.
Philadelphia might be aiming higher, but Grant would be a cheaper alternative who would still be a significant upgrade for a team that's championship-or-bust this season.