Free agent attacker Jerami Grant agreed to a three-year $ 60 million deal with the Detroit Pistons on Friday, a competition source told The Denver Post, which put the Nuggets in an extremely precarious situation at the start of Free Agency.
Even more discouraging, the Nuggets gave Grant the exact same offer he got from Detroit, but the free agent chose to leave anyway, a source said.
In the days leading up to Friday’s free agency, both the Nuggets and Grant’s camp were confident a deal would be reached. And yet at the start of free agency, Grant took on a more important role with the Pistons, which appealed to him more than staying in Denver.
In all likelihood, Grant would have been the starting force of a championship team. Instead, he plays with the Pistons, who finished 20-46 last season.
The Nuggets had publicly considered Grant their top off-season priority, and it remains unclear what their plan is for moving forward or how they will turn.
An option became clearer on Friday. The Nuggets have expressed interest in free forward JaMychal Green, a source in the competition said.
The Nuggets must also consider the future of free agent Paul Millsap, who may have become more important as a result of Grant’s departure. According to a source, Millsap waited to see how the market would develop at the start of free agency.
Due to their limited salary cap, the Nuggets will likely not be able to find a player of Grant’s caliber, which made the news even more alarming. During Grant’s introductory press conference last season, Nuggets basketball operations president Tim Connelly said he hoped the versatile forward would be in Denver for years.
Now Grant is gone after just a year, after the Nuggets traded a first round for him at Oklahoma City last off-season.
Grant is in a long-term relationship with Pistons’ new director, Troy Weaver, who was with Grant in Oklahoma City. Weaver was also a former Syracuse assistant, where Grant attended college.
With so much uncertainty in the Denver frontcourt, keeping Grant in the fold was essential. The Nuggets are losing height and defensive versatility, two key factors in their flight to last season’s Western Conference Finals. Denver was seen as the perfect place for him as he was able to knock out superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray and settle in for a contender in a supporting role.
Apparently he wanted to be characterized more heavily than what the Nuggets had to offer.
Grant averaged 12 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 39% of the 3-point range in his first season in Denver. He started 16 of the 19 playoff games, filling in for injured short striker Will Barton.