To break down the first trade week of the NBA Draft, and the one that suggests what could be the two most fascinating first off-season leagues, it’s best to start with a simple question. Or rather two questions:
The first is: If you could trade CJ McCollum for Jeremy Grant and Josh Hart, would you do it?
The other is: What if I tell you that Grant and Hart together still earn less than McCollum?
At the very least, Portland’s trade for Grant somewhat solidifies the foundation of the shaky theoretical Jeng Tower that is the Trail Blazers ’decision to renew around Damian Lillard, instead of just changing Lillard and starting over.
Let’s see, it’s not exactly a replacement for McCollum for Hart and Grant, but it’s close enough. Portland sent McCollum to New Orleans in February for Hart, the first and two seconds, with the first seemingly being the 11th pick on Thursday… until Paul George got COVID-19 and that turned into the first Bucks 2025.
Putting Larry Nancy into the job, along with various other pay fleets on both sides, created a $ 20.5 million trade exception juuuust big enough to take Grant to a later store. This did not seem to have happened by accident.
Let’s move on to Wednesday, when the Blazers took the same first from Milwaukee and two seconds, as well as replacing the 36th and 46th peaks in the 2022 draft and exchanged it in Detroit to take Grant as their exception. (The exact seconds that go for the Pistons are the seconds of Detroit in 2025 and better than Portland or New Orleans in 2026.)
So, if you take into account the result, Portland has now started what is expected to be very active out of season by keeping its own choice in the lottery and still gaining a big wing. It can be argued that the Grant idea never quite matched reality, except for the first half of his 2020-21 season, and that he is not worth his $ 20.7 million salary for next year; it can be equally strongly argued that the Blazers were not in a great position to get big wings, and this was the best that was reasonably available to them. The Blazers can extend Grant’s contract for six months; otherwise, he is a free agent next summer.
Meanwhile, Detroit fans who dreamed of winning Portland’s seventh pick in the 2022 draft are undoubtedly disappointed in this deal, but it never seemed like a realistic return for Grant … especially in this case where the Pistons didn’t have to take back any. salary, not even one of the various dead money deals at the back of Portland’s list.
Giving up on Grant without taking anything back, while the first one in 2025 will probably be late, exchanging 10 spades in the second round in 2022 and two pretty good future seconds is nothing to sneeze at. I doubt they could have bought better anywhere else. The Pistons can now turn down their team options for Carsen Edwards, Luke Garza and Frank Jackson and have almost $ 47 million in reserve, more than enough to drop the maximum bid for Miles Bridges or Deandre Eaton or perhaps try Dallas keeper Jalen Branson.
The Pistons can also pass the winning round when signing the Grant Agreement, which at the time seemed like a dramatic overpayment, but Detroit has now joined the future capital in the draft without real costs in the last two years. Whatever other oddities have happened in Detroit in the last two years (one of the peaks they got was one of the four seconds they sent the Clippers in that wacky deal with Luke Kennard), Grant’s contract was the biggest bet of the Troy Weaver regime so far, and hit.
The obvious question in Detroit now is whether this was just a speculative game for a place for the captain, or it was done with the prior knowledge that a certain player is ready and willing to report to the room for the capital of the Pistons. Grant could potentially be part of a signing and trade agreement with Phoenix for Ayton, for example; that possibility is now gone. From today until July 1, the Pistons will carry the title of the most interesting team in the league.
As for Portland, the opportunity cost of switching to a grant agreement is that it makes it difficult to do business for other purposes; that huge trade exception from the McCollum Agreement is no longer there. That could prove problematic because they seem to be better off, the younger wing earning less money, OG Anunobi, too.
Portland would certainly have to cough up its seventh pick in the 2022 draft to get Anunobi, but enforcing the deal is difficult now that the trade exception is gone. The Raptors wouldn’t necessarily want much of what Portland could offer in return as a suitable contract (such as Eric Bledsoe’s full $ 19 million guarantee for next year); Blazers would also likely be taxpayers if they made a deal that way. Obviously, Hart could also enter into this agreement, but I guess the Blazers would like to keep him and put Hart-Grant-Anunnobi in two-three-four places.
The alternative is to travel, collecting six different contracts in order to harmonize the salary with Anunobi’s, and then adding the seventh election as the cherry on top. This works easier if Nassir Little is in agreement, but Little is FOD (Friends of Dame) as far as I’ve heard and is therefore more likely to be left out of such an arrangement.
If so, a sloppy combination of Greg Brown, Justice Winslow, Keon Johnson, Didi Luzade, Trendon Watford and Elijah Hughes with a signed contract and exchanged juuuust enough money to be legal tender in Anunobi’s exchange, provided the trade takes place after the July moratorium. If the Raptors added two of their small contracts (say, All Mikhailiuk and Armoni Brooks), they would create an exception in the $ 17 million trade.
(Side note: If OG Anunobi is really available, the Grizzlies definitely call Masai Uyuri every 30 minutes and then ping Bobby Webster at 15s and 45s. They were looking for a big wing to pair with their current core two years now and can take Anunobi’s the only question is what other players and funds in the Memphis draft would have to return and whether the price is too high. And also, of course, if Anunobi is really available.)
Blazers have other factors to consider. Adding Anunobi would leave them with only $ 40 million from the tax line, even if Bledsoe gives up. They would still have to re-sign Jusuf Nurkić and Anferni Simons and fill in somewhere between three and seven other blanks in the list, depending on how the store is set up.
So … if it weren’t obvious, the Blazers-Pistons deal could be a domino that triggers many other trades. Detroit can take dead contracts into its space and still have enough to make a maximum contact contract; Portland’s choice in 7th place is very much in play, and the Blazers have other scenarios to work on. The book is only partially written about this trade, depending on the next moves of each team, but I guess we will return to this agreement often in the coming months and years.
Edwards: Why the Pistons arranged for Jeremy Grant now
Harper: Evaluation of the Pistons-Blazers trade
(Photo by Jeremy Grant: Dan Hamilton / USA Today)
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