On Saturday evening, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski announced that the Chicago Bulls were a part of a three-team trade that sent guard Jerian Grant to the Orlando Magic.
Deal includes Bulls guard Jerian Grant to Magic, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/vxbM1kXKZy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2018
In the three-team deal, Bismack Biyombo heads to the Hornets, Julyan Stone to the Bulls and Timofey Mozgov to the Magic along with Grant.
Journeyman Stone has spent most of last season with the Greensboro Swarm of the G-League, and is likely to spend his upcoming year with the Windy City Bulls.
The deal is one that makes sense for Chicago, seeing as the writing was on the wall for Grant to be shipped out of town as early as last season's All-Star break. And the team also had shown belief that Cameron Payne can be a solid backup point guard after his decent end to the year.
The guard rotation is crowded for the Bulls by the fact that the newly re-signed Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine are both players 6-foot, 5-inch (or taller) who have shown impressive playmaking skills in their time in the league. Undrafted guard Ryan Arcidiacono also played with intensity last season in stints between the G-League and the Bulls.
On top of the crowded backcourt, Grant was due to become a restricted free agent in the 2019-20 offseason, and this move shows that the Bulls front office likely had no plans to retain the 25-year old guard. So rather than dealing with his upcoming restricted free agency, the front office chose to get $2.6 million salary off the books.
This move seems like a win-win-win for everyone involved.
Orlando has been searching for a point guard after deciding to take big man Mo Bamba with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. They had veteran D.J. Augustin as the only point guard on the roster, before signing former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe. They were expected to be major players for free-agent Isaiah Thomas, but apparently talks have died down on that recently.
So word in Vegas is Orlando Magic talked with Isaiah Thomas but unlikely to move forward with a deal. Magic may hold the line at this point and see what else develops. They want to stay flexible in case something opens up. Did it last year with Jonathan Simmons— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 7, 2018
And Orlando's trade for Grant makes it even more likely that they move on from the idea of signing Thomas. It could still happen, but giving Grant the lion's share of the playing time could be a great decision for the rebuilding Magic rather than adding a veteran like Thomas. Despite only having a 1.4 percent jump in usage rate, Grant increased his assist percentage to 30.1 percent, an incredible 12.7 percent leap that led to him finishing in the top 20 in the NBA in assist rate, sandwiched between Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic.
Next season is set up to be a big developmental year for Chicago. And getting rid of Grant—who played 22.8 minutes per game—likely means that Lauri Markkanen, LaVine, and Kris Dunn (especially) can all expect to play 30 minutes or more per game.