T.J. McConnell was preparing for Tuesday’s game against the Magic when his phone rang. Jerami Grant was calling to let McConnell know he had been traded to the Thunder.
“I was really sad,” McConnell said. “I know a lot of people around here are sad because Jerami was like the favorite guy in the locker room. Everyone loved him.”
The Sixers dealt Grant to the Thunder in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a conditional first-round pick (see story). Grant, the 39th pick in 2014, was in his third year with the Sixers. He made a positive impact in that short time.
Robert Covington described Grant’s personality as “unmatched." Nik Stauskas noted Grant was one to lift spirits amid the flurry of struggles. Grant experienced 28 wins and 138 losses during his time with the Sixers.
“He endured a lot — a lot of painful losses along the way,” Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “But good, developing young player that I think has a bright future in the NBA. We’re thankful for everything he’s done. When you talk about class and professionalism, Jerami Grant is all of that. He’s terrific.”
Grant averaged 8.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks over his career with the Sixers.
This season the team had planned to utilize him at the small forward position, where Grant looked forward to using his size to create mismatches. But injuries to Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor created a need for him to play at the four.
“The injuries that we’re all aware of forces some of this,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of the trade. “You’re really trying to remain competitive and get a positionally-balanced type of roster. The injuries, I think, maybe expedited some of these decisions.”
The trade happened early in the season, hours before the third game. The Thunder had been inquiring about Grant for a while before the deal occurred.
“This is something that Oklahoma City has pursued for some time,” Colangelo said. “They’ve expressed an interest in Jerami Grant over the course of time. The offers continued to get richer and richer. This led to the right timing from our perspective when the offer became realistic for us to make a move with Jerami, who we viewed as a nice young piece here.”
Grant will face the Sixers on March 22 in Oklahoma City.
“You’re going to miss him,” Brown said. “He’s a wonderful human being.”