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Could Blazers PF Jerami Grant Leave Portland in Free Agency?

Jerami Grant will be a free agent this summer, and some may think he won’t return to the Portland Trail Blazers.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 NBA season. Reports throughout the year have echoed strong sentiments that the 28-year-old former Olympic gold medalist is content with his situation in Portland. But, could he upset the apple cart and head elsewhere this summer?

Dan Favale of Bleacher Report led with Grant when assessing notable free agents who could realistically be on the move heading into next year, saying in part:

“That mark is bound to include Portland—which, despite its hazy trade-deadline activity, must weigh all win-now possibilities to maximize what’s currently the best version of Damian Lillard we’ve ever seen. But we have seen Grant leave an interested party for a higher-profile role before. And while the Blazers don’t deploy him as the pure accessory the Denver Nuggets did, others may be able to offer a more central offensive focus,” Favale said.

“In the event role isn’t the issue (it probably won’t be), the money eventually has to matter. The Blazers already have nearly $87 million allocated to Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons next season. Tacking on another $30-plus million for Grant will make it difficult to duck the luxury tax while retaining Cam Reddish (restricted), Matisse Thybulle (restricted) and actively looking to make other upgrades.”

Also noted in the article is the impending four-year, $112 million contract extension that Blazers management have extended to Grant in hopes he signs on the dotted lines. Favale also noted that Lillard, Simons and Nurkic will all take up roughly $30 million on average next season.

Pragmatically, having three additional $30 million players next to Lillard — all of which have never been an All-NBA or All-Star honoree — does not make sense. Grant just so happens to be the most valuable of the bunch, with the least security with the team as it stands.

Grant has the option to forgo the contract extension offer, play the field in the summer and still resign with the Blazers. However, the likelihood that another team seeks after a tall, 6-8 3-and-D player who can carry an offense on any given night is very probable. His archetype is the most sought after supplementary player in today’s NBA.

There are several playoff contending teams — Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks to name a few — that either possess the big-market capital or need for upgrade at the combo-forward position that could strongly pursue Grant and get one step closer to a championship.

The Blazers are currently the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference at 31-35. They are 2.5 games out of the No. 6 seed, and only one game back from squeezing in to the play-in tournament. Whether or not the Blazers earn a trip to the postseason may tip the balances for Grant when determining if he wants a quicker route to a championship, as he approaches 29 years of age.