With exactly one month until the 2022 NBA trade deadline arrives on February 10, a rumor has emerged linking the Wizards once again to Pistons wing Jerami Grant. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Wizards are among several teams keeping an eye on Grant as the deadline approaches.
Grant, 27, remains out for a few more weeks with a thumb injury, but even so, it's easy to see why he would interest the Wizards and other teams. He's a very good two-way forward who has shown significant improvement in recent years.
While nothing appears to be imminent, here are five quick thoughts on the Wizards and Grant as a fit...
Grant matches their direction
The Wizards want to continue marching forward with defense dictating their roster decisions. Grant is a terrific wing defender with the versatility to guard the opposing team's best scorer just about every night, regardless of position. But his size and skill set would be ideal for the match-ups the Wizards are going to need to navigate the Eastern Conference. He would be the guy to guard DeMar DeRozan of the Bulls, Tobias Harris of the Sixers, Jayson Tatum of the Celtics and Jimmy Butler of the Heat.
No one on the planet can truly shut down Kevin Durant of the Nets, but Grant would probably have a better chance than anyone on their roster. He might even be their best option against Giannis Antetokounmpo, though much like Durant, the expectations would be relatively low.
Grant would present a high upside on both ends because he can also score. He's averaged 20-plus points in the last two seasons and has made great strides shooting threes, knocking down 37% from long range the last four years. The Wizards have had major trouble making threes the past two seasons, so he would help that cause.
Some connections to note
Grant joining the Wizards would likely be a comfortable fit on his end for several reasons. For one, he's from the area, having gone to DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, MD. He spent extended time in the region because his father, Harvey, played for the Bullets. Jerami's brother Jerian had a stint with the Wizards two years ago.
Grant also played for Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. when they were together in Denver. Unseld Jr. was then an assistant on Michael Malone's staff. Grant left the Nuggets to sign with the Pistons and was able to grow as a scorer in a larger role. Unseld Jr. would know how to utilize him and would probably love to have a wing defender of his caliber to anchor the defense.
Good timing with Beal
If the Wizards traded for Grant, it would represent an aggressive move towards trying to build a contender, no doubt, given they would probably have to give up a decent amount to bring him to D.C. The timing of such a move could be good with star guard Bradley Beal still mulling a contract extension offer. Trading for a player like Grant wouldn't necessarily bring Beal to change course and sign the contract soon, but it does seem likely that bringing a player like Grant would help their case if negotiations moved into the offseason.
Grant would join the Wizards with a high likelihood of being their second-best player. So far that question has been a bit of a moving target, as guys like Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and others have made their own case at various times. Grant, though, arguably presents a higher short-term ceiling than anyone else on the roster outside of Beal given his two-way capabilities.
Are they ready to give up young players?
None of the above is to suggest the Wizards trading for Grant is a no-brainer because they would likely have to put together a substantial offer to acquire him. He's never been an All-Star, but he's probably in the next tier of players, the type that would represent a legitimate core building block. In order to beat out other teams, and given the Pistons' current path of rebuilding, it seems like a safe bet young players would have to be involved in the deal. The Wizards also have their first-round picks from 2023 to 2025 tied up in protections due to the John Wall-Russell Westbrook trade.
The Wizards have an emerging group of young players headlined by Daniel Gafford, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert. Parting with any of them wouldn't be an easy call. That said, there are usually two reasons to develop young players; either for them to help you win or for them to be flipped for someone else who can. Part of the job for the Wizards' front office is to determine which guys are worth keeping (and paying) and which ones should be traded by selling high on their value. They have to weigh the value of Grant at $20 million per year with the value and upside of young players on cheaper contracts.
Is he the guy to push the chips in for?
The Wizards have done a nice job adding depth and clearing their salary cap of a supermax contract. At some point, however, they may need to package some players together and flip them for a substantial return, the type of player or players that could turn them into true contenders. Given trade resources are finite, the Wizards would have to consider whether Grant is the right player to give up a lot for, or if it's smarter to aim higher and go after someone better.
There is no guarantee the right player will become available, someone who fits what they want to do and whom they have enough to acquire. So, they have to weigh that possibility. But it would also not be wise to trade a ton for Grant, only to top out as a middling team with less flexibility to continue building their roster. If and when the Wizards made such a decision, they need to be certain that player will level them up in a significant way. Though Grant is very good, how much closer would he get them to compete with teams like Brooklyn and Milwaukee? That's what they have to answer.