Could the Chicago Bulls (45-36) re-visit a trade for eight-year NBA veteran and 2020 Olympic gold medalist Jerami Grant? Senior NBA insider for The Athletic, Shams Charania, said during his April 6 appearance on “Unfiltered with David Kaplan” that the Detroit Pistons forward is a “more likely candidate to be moved” this summer.
Another night brought another blowout loss for the Bulls who have now lost four games in a row, all by 16 points or more, and are just 7-15 since returning from the All-Star break on February 24.
With their playoff position as the sixth-seed locked in, the matchup versus the Charlotte Hornets on April 8 was supposed to be a bit of a ‘get right’ opportunity against a team they had beaten by 12-plus points in each of the two previous meetings.
It ended in a 133-117 defeat.
This slide has made the Bulls’ offseason as hot of a topic as their immediate future in the postseason. They will have options for improving as every summer brings surprising twists and turns.
Which Brings Us Back to Grant
Chicago has been reluctant to part with second-year forward Patrick Williams, the first pick of Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas‘ tenure. As Charania noted, the Bulls were in discussion with the Pistons at the deadline only to rebuff the latter’s request for Williams, who Karnisovas drafted fourth overall in 2020.
“Jerami Grant, I look at him as a more likely candidate to be moved and that’s a guy the Bulls did call on, this season, before the trade deadline. But, you know, the Pistons wanted Patrick Williams and the Bulls just were not in a place, this year, where they were going to get rid of a guy [Williams].”
Grant appeared in just 47 games this season following surgery for torn thumb ligaments and, later, being shut down with a calf strain. He has not suited up since March 25 when he left after playing fewer than eight minutes against the Washington Wizards.
He averaged 20.8 points while hitting 44.3% of his triples over his last 12 appearances on 63.0% true shooting.
The 39th-overall pick in 2014 by the Philadelphia 76ers, Grant will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season. He is seeking a “lucrative extension in the ballpark of four years, $112 million” as well as a role as a “primary offensive option”, sources tell Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
That salary would put him between the Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry’s $28.3 million average annual value and the $27.3 million DeMar DeRozan earns on average, per Spotrac.com‘s latest data.
His role could be an issue depending on what the Bulls do with Nikola Vucevic this offseason.
The big man has struggled this season to fit as the third option and it has only gotten worse lately.
Still, Grant’s versatility on the floor and the books would seem to mesh well with the Bulls and is why he was one of the hottest names at the trade deadline. He will be this offseason, too, as the Pistons move forward with Cade Cunningham leading their rebuild.
What’s Williams Worth?
Heading into the first postseason appearance in five years for the franchise, most of the players will be making their playoff debuts as well, including Williams. Charania explained why the Bulls opted to hold onto him at the deadline when he had appeared in all of five games to that point.
“He has the potential to be like Jerami Grant…He’s only in his second year, the number four pick a couple years ago, and he’s a guy that you can develop on a rookie-scale contract”
There are still many questions about Williams and the roster overall. They will have to weigh the risks of waiting for him to develop while propping their playoff window open or moving him for a proven asset, such as Grant, before seeing him put it all together.
In a vacuum, the choice to be patient would seem to be an easy one. That is not how sports work, though, especially in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest sports media market, per Sports Media Watch.
The Bulls’ late-season fade has frustrated their head coach and had fans booing them during the loss to Charlotte.
Grant’s Pistons tenure has not gone as planned after leaving the Denver Nuggets — where Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Karnisovas came from — as a free agent in 2020 for a more prominent role in Detroit.
The former Syracuse Orange was also coached by Bulls head coach Billy Donovan from 2017 through 2019 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He has a 104.1 offensive rating this season. That is 3.2 points worse than Williams’ 107.3 offensive rating. His 111.4 defensive rating was 2.4 points better than the former Florida State Seminole’s 113.8 defensive rating, though, per Cleaning the Glass.
Williams has averaged 12.0 points on 75.8% true shooting while knocking down 63.6% of his threes on 2.2 attempts per contest over his last five games.
Barring some late-developing interest in Vucevic by Detroit, the Bulls have to hope that the asking price has come down significantly if they want to land Grant without handing over the promising Williams.