The Portland Trail Blazers somewhat confusingly locked up forward Jerami Grant with a five-year, $160 million contract last offseason. The writing seemed to be on the wall for Damian Lillard's exit, which would signify a franchise-wide tear-down and rebuild. Where would a 29-year-old Grant fit in a timeline that featured 20-year-old Shaedon Sharpe and, eventually, 19-year-old Scoot Henderson?
As it turns out, Grant and his deal may fit more snugly than initially anticipated.
Jerami Grant's massive salary may help Trail Blazers in trade negotiations
The 6-foot-7 forward is having a career year and has been Portland's best player. Any discussions surrounding a potential Grant trade start there.
He's started 28 of the Blazers' 32 games and is averaging 22.1 points with 46/42/81 shooting splits. He's one of only five players in the league scoring at least 22 points per game on 16 or more shot attempts while shooting 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. The other four are Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jalen Brunson and Tyler Herro.
So Grant would certainly be of value to a contending team in need of a forward. And it just so happens that there is a glut of players at that position who will be available in free agency this summer, which could put the Blazers in an advantageous position at the trade deadline, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic (subscription required).
"It may be a bit too early to tell, but Grant and the Blazers may end up benefiting from a truly fascinating dynamic that should play out over the next eight months. ... After this season, Grant will functionally have a four-year, $132.4 million deal. Even at the league’s potentially modest $142 million cap estimate for next season, the 30 percent max would start at $42.6 million, so a four-year agreement with a new team would be worth a whopping $183.2 million without even adding in the larger raises and fifth year using Bird rights if they re-sign."- Danny Leroux, The Athletic
So, while Grant's deal looked imposing when he signed it, it doesn't look so intimidating moving forward. Leroux cites Toronto's Pascal Siakam as an example: Would teams shell out that $183.2 million for him in free agency or trade for Grant and pay him more than $50 million less?
Whether or not the Blazers should trade him is debatable, but if they decide to go that route,
Grant may actually look more attractive to certain teams as February's deadline approaches; not less.