Should the Phoenix Suns trade for Star Forward Jerami Grant?

Phoenix Suns, Jerami Grant. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Jerami Grant. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

At first glance, Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant looks like an excellent fit for the Phoenix Suns as they contend for the NBA Championship. Grant brings the scoring punch, averaging 20.1 points per game this season, and the defensive versatility needed to compete with the Golden State Warriors in a hypothetical Western Conference Finals matchup.

The Suns would first have to win the bidding war for Grant’s services. Detroit owns the NBA’s worst record at 5-27 and find themselves looking to move Grant with him potentially becoming a free agent after this offseason. The asking price will be very steep considering the variety of teams looking to acquire his services, and Detroit will prioritize draft picks and young players in any trade package for him.

Grant’s recent surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right thumb (his shooting hand), keeping him out for at least six weeks resembles the only potential holdup to this trade. With that recovery timetable, he likely does not play until after the All-Star break in late February.

However, his injury will not alter his trade value at all. Very few impact players of his caliber remain available in the trade market, and title contenders desperate for that “one extra piece” will overpay for Grant.

What could a Phoenix Suns proposed package for Jerami Grant look like?

The Suns possess the trade capital to satisfy Detroit’s basic requirements. While Suns fans will be shocked at the overall asking price, the trade below would be the only deal which Detroit considers from Phoenix.

Detroit will love this trade package! Cameron Johnson knocks down threes at an elite clip, currently hitting 42.9 percent from range. He also does all the little things needed to help his team win games like offensive rebounding or making timely cuts to the basket. He fits perfectly in Detroit as their small forward of the future alongside their young backcourt, built up by recent lottery picks Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham.

Detroit should want to take a flyer on Jalen Smith, who might benefit under a different role on a rebuilding team. Several former lottery picks (e.g. Chauncey Billups) only started to become successful on their second or third teams. Smith has shown enough potential in his limited minutes that a rebuilding team like Detroit should give him extended run to see if he represents a long term piece going forward.

Saric strictly comes over for contract filler. He likely does not play this season while recovering from his torn ACL suffered in last year’s NBA Finals. But with that, the first round picks from Phoenix will benefit Detroit more than Phoenix. The Suns already possess depth and might struggle to fit any future first-rounders in their rotation, and this trade alleviates them from that pressure.

So Phoenix indeed carries the trade capital needed to acquire Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons. But does Grant fit into the Suns as presently constructed?

Analyzing Jerami Grant’s potential role on the Phoenix Suns

The Suns will either start Grant over Jae Crowder or bring him off the bench to replace Johnson’s role. Grant embodies an ideal small-ball center to close out games during a hypothetical playoff series with the Golden State Warriors. His length and athleticism allow him to match up with Golden State’s Draymond Green when the Warriors put out their own small ball lineup to close.

Grant is at his best when attacking the basket in transition and remains an excellent free-throw shooter. He will thrive as a third scoring option playing alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker, or as a primary scoring option off the bench.

He also strictly resembles a finisher at this stage in his career, never averaging more than three assists per game in any of his eight NBA seasons. Grant’s ball-handling and playmaking have additionally improved to a point where Phoenix might use him as a primary scorer with the second unit.

But while this all sounds great on paper, if Grant comes to the Suns, he also goes from being an undisputed first option to probably the third one for Phoenix. The Suns remain extremely disciplined and structured within their roles. Any drastic changes to the Suns rotation may jeopardize their excellent team chemistry cultivated by Paul and Head Coach Monty Williams.

Moreover, the Suns already found success by surrounding the Paul/Booker/Ayton trio with elite 3-point shooters. Grant’s three-point shooting regressed to 33.0 percent this season. Their spacing with him will be problematic when he takes the floor with Ayton.

He also would have the second highest usage rate (a shade over 26.0 percent) on the team behind Devin Booker. Grant will need to relearn how to play off other stars, which might become a tough role to accept considering how he signed with Detroit specifically to work as a primary scoring option.

But financial responsibility remains the main reason why the Suns should not trade for Grant.

Given long-term deals pending for the Suns, it will quickly become cost-prohibitive for Phoenix to keep Grant beyond this season. Once the Mikal Bridges extension factors in, signing both Ayton and Grant puts their payroll at least $30 million above the luxury tax.

Conclusion: The cost of getting Jerami Grant is not worth it for the Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns should not trade for Grant because resembles a poor fit playing alongside Paul and Booker. Also, the Suns possess compelling financial reasons to not trade for another high-priced player at this time. Cameron Johnson’s skillset presents a better long-term fit in Phoenix’s lineup than Grant’s as well.

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At the end of the day, Phoenix must think long term. Even if they do manage to trade for Grant, his contract demands this offseason will make it impossible for the Suns to keep him in their future plans without sporting the NBA’s highest payroll.