After an embarrassing road loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, the Boston Celtics have now won just five of their last 15 games, freefalling to fifth-place in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, Kemba Walker’s play in D.C. was a pleasant surprise. Plus, Marcus Smart’s eventual return to the court should prove invaluable on both ends. Still, the Celtics clearly need a jolt to their rotation. The good news? “Trader Danny” looks primed to pull the trigger and put Boston’s monstrous $28.5 million traded player exception to good use.
For the past few weeks, Kings forward Harrison Barnes has seemingly catapulted himself to the top of the C’s wish list. Perceived as a perfect third-option with two-way traits, Barnes looks like the ideal answer for Boston ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. However, a Friday night matchup with the Detroit Pistons led to a new name being tossed in the ring, breakout forward Jerami Grant.
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Move Over Harrison Barnes, All-In on Jerami Grant?
According to NBCS analyst Brian Scalabrine, not only is Grant worth considering, the Celtics NBA Champion believes Grant should be the preferred target for Boston as the deadline approaches.
“The answer is yes, I would do whatever it takes to get Jerami Grant,” Scalabrine said on Celtics Pregame Live. “I think he’s a perfect fit for what we’re doing here. I think that he could be the guy that has big games. I think he could be a guy that helps defensively, he can guard multiple positions. To me, he jumps ahead of Harrison Barnes, and then Harrison Barnes is two. So yes, Grant to me is the guy.”
Jerami Grant-Celtics Trade Talks Receive Pushback
While Scalabrine is all-in on the prospect of adding the versatile forward to the Celtics’ lineup, his colleague, Chris Forsberg has his doubts on whether Grant is the right fit. While Forsberg appreciates the talent that Grant offers, he questions whether the 26-year-old may prioritize putting up “empty calorie stats” over chasing a championship.
“I think Harrison Barnes could come in and be perfectly happy being a third or fourth option, coming off the bench, whatever,” Forsberg said. “Jerami Grant, part of the reason he wanted out of Denver was to be the focal point of an offense. I don’t know if he’s content to be the best guy on the 29th team in the NBA or if now that he’s had a sample of what it’s like to be in basketball Siberia does he want to be back on a championship-caliber team. That would be my one hesitation.”
Acquired by Detroit in a sign-and-trade with the Denver Nuggets this past offseason, Grant has taken his game to new heights in 2020-21. Averaging a modest 12.0 points per game for the Nuggets just last season, Grant has seen his scoring output nearly double, averaging 23.3 ppg through 26 games this year. The 26-year-old has shown improved touch as a shooter and continues to use his size to get to the rim with ease, drawing fouls with regularity. When he gets to the line, Grant knocks down 87.3% of his free throws, which ranks within the top-25 of the NBA.
Would Grant be an upgrade to Boston’s lineup? Almost certainly. His scoring prowess and position flexibility could work wonders for the Celtics, who have a huge dropoff after their first two options (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown). With that said, a player such as Barnes may prove to be the more ideal fit for a team with championship aspirations.
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