The Portland Trail Blazers re-signed forward Jerami Grant on a five-year, $160 million contract with a fifth-year player option in a July move that quickly became the punchline of many jokes on national NBA podcasts.
However, in a recent piece for The Athletic, salary cap expert Danny Leroux wrote how Grant’s large contract is nothing to laugh at and could quickly enhance Grant’s value on the trade market.
Leroux pointed out that the teams with the biggest spending power in 2024 — such as the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons — also happen to badly need forwards. While the 2024 forward free agency class is strong, Leroux said there will still be teams with available cap space that need forward upgrades when the best in the class sign elsewhere.
Additionally, and this is the real kicker, Leroux said that with the rising salary cap in subsequent years, Grant’s massive contract actually doesn’t turn out to be so massive. Leroux argued trading for Grant and his contract could be more sensible for a team rather than, say, trying to pay Raptors forward Pascal Siakam loads of money in summer free agency.
Another part of the argument in favor of trading for Grant will be his contract, even if that may take a little time. 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.
Would another team prefer Siakam and/or Anunoby at four years for $183 million to Grant at four years for $132 million? Absolutely possible. Would they feel that Grant’s deal is prohibitively expensive in comparison? Probably not.
My projections for a 30 percent max contract starting in 2025-26 would start a 30 percent max contract would start at $46.9 million and have a four-year figure of $201.5 million. All of a sudden, Grant’s eye-popping salary becomes a whole lot more palatable.
While Leroux noted Portland doesn’t necessarily have to rush a Grant trade at the February deadline, he said the Trail Blazers could find themselves in a position of negotiating strength relatively quickly when it comes to Grant’s value on the market.
It would be stunning to see arguably the most surprising contract of the 2023 offseason become desirable this quickly, but it is definitely possible if Grant stays healthy and keeps up his level of play.