Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant has many reasons to be happy, at least 160 million of them.
Grant, 30, signed a five-year, $160 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers on the first day of free agency, just before Damian Lillard requested a trade. The timing of the moves led CBS Sports writer Brad Botkin to list Grant among the worst contracts signed in free agency so far.
The only halfway reasonable explanation for the Blazers giving Grant a $160 million deal is that they knew losing Grant would equate to losing Lillard, so they overwhelmed him with not just huge money but a five-year commitment to eliminate even the remotest possibility of him leaving.
Turns out, they’re going to lose Lillard anyway, and now they’re stuck with a third-option, sub-All-Star player making the same average annual salary that Jayson Tatum is making on his current contract.
It begs the question: Who, exactly, were they bidding against? Five years is a long time to be tied to this kind of money for, again, a good but not great player who will turn 30 in March and doesn’t make nearly as much sense on a team that is about to pivot into a youth movement behind Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe.
Grant was acquired by the Blazers a year ago in an offseason trade to help boost the Blazers’ potential towards becoming a playoff contender. However, despite Grant’s arrival, the Blazers managed to finish in the lottery once again. That being said, Grant’s individual numbers looked strong in his first season with the Blazers.
He averaged 20.5 points per game while shooting just north of 40 percent from beyond the three-point line. He was effective in the box score, but didn’t make enough of an impact in winning basketball games.
Signing Grant without a guarantee from Lillard that he was staying is a questionable decision made by the Blazers, because trading a $32 million per year player is not going to be easy, especially as he gets into his 30s.
But now, Portland has a solidified veteran who the young players can rally around as it approaches its new era with Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe leading the way.