The Portland Trail Blazers have tons of potential moves ahead of them this summer. The 2023 NBA Draft, Damian Lillard’s contentedness, and the trade value of guards Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe are all being hotly debated. But a question about another Portland starter—power forward Jerami Grant—has seeped into public consciousness. Grant will be an unrestricted free agent, likely demanding a contract in the $30 million range. One reader wants to know if re-signing him is a smart move, given the circumstances. That’s the subject of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.
I’ve been hearing that maybe Jerami Grant isn’t as sure of a thing as we think he is to come back next year. Grant has options but the team does too. I’m one of the ones who think that Dame isn’t going to be here forever. I don’t see signing Grant to a really expensive contract as helping if that’s so. I know it’s defeatist but do you see any way the Blazers just let Grant go?
No. Full stop. The Blazers will re-sign Grant if at all possible. It’ll be one of their earliest priorities.
Grant’s stat line makes part of the argument for you. 20.5 points don’t go as far as they used to, but 40.1% three-point shooting sure does. He shot 47.5% overall from the field too. With those shooting percentages, if he can defend at all, he’s going to stick with a team. Might as well be Portland.
But it goes deeper than that. Grant is 29, in his prime. A four-year deal would leave him at 33 when it expired. That’s reasonable for a forward with his build and skill set. The Blazers could expect his utility to last throughout. That means Grant would be serviceable whether or not the Blazers decided to rebuild.
Just as crucially, he’d be serviceable to other teams. And therein lies the real reason they’ll keep him.
Saying goodbye to Grant, the Blazers would generate zero cap dollars to spend. In order to get actual free agent money, they’d have to drop a half-dozen more players alongside him, and even then it’d barely be more than a mid-level exception. They’d lose him for nothing.
Conversely, if they keep him, they retain his trade value and salary slot. Even if they had to trade Lillard, they’d still have a 20-point scorer in his prime who also plays decent defense to dangle on the market after. They could parlay that into a future pick or two, maybe a young prospect? Anything they got would be better than the zero-gain move of not signing him.
There’s more. Grant’s cap hold of $31.5 million is comparable to the salary he’s projected to make. There’s zero reason for the Blazers to delay negotiations with him. He’s gunking up their ledger either way. Portland will want to get him in the fold early.
If possible, the Blazers could play both ends of the equation by frontloading Grant’s contract, absorbing a higher cost now, either holding compensation steady or having it decline modestly in ensuing years. That would keep him trade-worthy even as the contract rolled along. It may not make sense with luxury tax status and Grant’s own financial demands, but it’d be a good move if they could pull it off.
Either way, Grant is going to be a “re-sign as early as possible” player this summer. If he goes somewhere else, or even if there’s a delay, that’s going to be because he chose to, not the Blazers.
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