NBA trade rumors: Blazers have chance to make dream deal with upstart East contender

Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers (right); Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Jerami Grant, Portland Trail Blazers (right); Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The Portland Trail Blazers weren't shy this offseason about their goal to build for the future, not win in the present. Still, the team brought back high-priced free agent forward Jerami Grant, who has been productive but doesn't necessarily fit snugly into the franchise's timeline.

That doesn't mean general manager Joe Cronin should be in a hurry to get rid of Grant, but if the right opportunity presented itself, he'd have little reason to not pull the trigger.

And the right opportunity may have just presented itself.

A recent NBA rumor suggests a surprising Eastern Conference contender is looking to add a player with Grant's skillset. Said contender just so happens to have a top-10 pick in last year's draft stuck on the bench who would fit right in with the Trail Blazers - alongside the No. 3 pick in last year's draft, Scoot Henderson.

The chance is sitting there for Cronin to shoot his shot and make a blockbuster trade that would set Portland up with another potential star to add to its future core.

Blazers forward Jerami Grant could be a target for the Indiana Pacers

ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported (h/t Bleacher Report) that the Pacers - who sit fifth in the East standings and just made the finals of the league's inaugural in-season tournament - "have been aggressive in trying to trade for that big, athletic two-way wing player that they need to build out [their] roster."

Well, Grant is exactly that; a big, athletic two-way wing player. The 6-foot-7 combo forward is 29th in the league in scoring at 22.1 points per game and is shooting 41.2 percent from three on 6.3 attempts per night. He's also averaging 1.7 stocks (steals plus blocks). That's the type of production that would fit seamlessly onto a roster led by Tyrese Haliburton.

A sticking point in any Grant trade will always be the five-year, $160 million deal he just signed with the Blazers this summer. It just so happens, though, that Indiana is more well-positioned to take on that salary than perhaps any other team in the NBA, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks.

What could a potential Blazers-Pacers Jerami Grant trade look like?

Woj added in his report that Indiana is ready "to give up picks and assets" to acquire this type of wing they covet. He mentions Toronto's Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby as targets, but Raptors President Masai Ujiri clung to his two most valuable assets at last season's trade deadline and demanded a massive haul for either. Portland may be more accommodating in dealing Grant.

The Blazers' 29-year-old forward can't be dealt until Jan. 15, but that would still give the Pacers three months of regular-season games to incorporate Grant - a player who proved last year with Damian Lillard that he's willing to be second fiddle, sometimes third, and defer to a star point guard.

From a Portland perspective, the most attractive piece of a potential trade with Indiana may be forward Jarace Walker. Walker was the eighth pick in the 2023 draft, taken just five spots behind Henderson. As a physical, defense-first big with good size and strength - 6-foot-7, 235 pounds - he's the type of player the Blazers should be desperate to add to their roster.

The Pacers don't seem to need him at the moment. Walker has only played in five games for Indiana this season, averaging 8.2 minutes in those contests. With Haliburton rising to a legitimate superstar level, the Pacers may be willing to deal an unproven surplus product from a position of depth to open their competitive window sooner rather than later.

A swap of Grant for Walker and Buddy Hield's expiring contract is a simple deal for both sides. The Blazers get a 20-year-old top-8 pick instead of the unknown of future draft selections and free up a massive amount of cap space. The Pacers get the exact type of player they're rumored to want without giving up any significant future assets.

Maybe the deal is tweaked to include other players or picks, but the framework of a Grant-Walker swap is there, and it would be one of the rather rare win-win NBA trades.