Detroit Pistons’ forward Jerami Grant is reportedly in discussions as part of a Ben Simmons trade package, according to Keith Pompey, from the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the report, the Sixers might be interested in trading Simmons for Grant, a young player, a forward, and a draft pick.
Pompey also reports that James Harden might still be on the Sixers’ radar, as their main target. Yes, Harden has not yet signed a contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets. But it seems like he is making a business decision to maximize his earnings. It is unlikely that the Nets and Harden are looking to part ways. Recently, Harden said that he wanted to spend the rest of his career in Brooklyn. As time goes by, Daryl Morey’s dream of trading Simmons for another NBA superstar becomes unattainable.
Simmons has been in trade discussions since last season’s playoff loss against Atlanta. The basketball world is well aware of all the turmoil between Simmons, Morey, the Sixers, and Rich Paul. Although previous reports link the Australian player to franchises like Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, and Portland Trail-Blazers, it seems like no teams are willing to give up what the Sixers are asking. For how long can the Sixers sustain this situation?
As the season progresses, Simmons loses trade value. At this point, the best scenario for the Sixers may be to find a way to ship Simmons for solid and good-fitting role players to maximize Joel Embiid. With Grant, Detroit might present this opportunity.
Jerami Grant has become one of the league’s elite-caliber role players. He came up short on the Most Improved Player award, yet, the 27-year-old forward showcases solid defensive performances, and evident improvement on offense. In 54 games last season, Grant averaged a career-high 22 points as Detroit’s main source of scoring. In Denver, in a 3-and-D role for a title contender, he averaged a dependable 39% from the perimeter.
Grant is also a solid playoff performer. At the Nuggets’ bubble run to the Western Conference Finals, Grant was a menace at the 3 point line, closing the series against Utah with over 40% perimeter shooting. In the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, Grant was the team’s third-best scorer (16 points per game), only behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Sixers being able to land Grant, and maybe Saddiq Bey and Kelly Olynyk – a young scoring threat, and an experienced floor-spacer – is probably an underrated scenario.
For now, everything seems too theoretical on the Pistons’ side. The Pistons have a timetable to model the number one pick in 2021 Draft Cade Cunningham into the player they expect him to become. However, where does Ben Simmons fit in this scenario? Is Simmons a match to Cunningham’s play? Can they develop Cunningham and rehabilitate Simmons at the same time? Is Simmons, a perennial league leader in touches and possessions per game, willing to play off-ball alongside a maturing ball handler?
What we know for a fact is: Simmons is the best player in this conversation. Detroit should consider pulling the trigger. The 25-year-old guard is a crafty finisher, solid open-court playmaker, and already one of the most dominant defensive stoppers in the NBA. Probably the best player the Pistons would have since their last trip to the NBA Finals. If there is a way that the team can accommodate the windows of Simmons and Cunningham, this is a no-brainer. If both players can work out on the floor, this can turn things around for the Detroit Pistons.
Whether Simmons is about to become a forward, or a small center, playing closer to the basket, cutting and setting screens, still remains to be seen. But, since Simmons is probably not developing a jump shot anymore, he is right now one of the most predictable elite guards in the league. In mid-court situations, Simmons is almost a non-factor, since opposing defenses know how to handle his offensive threats. Maybe Simmons’ play should become less ball-dominant, especially playing with a savvy young guard alongside him.
There is no way to know for a fact if this story is close to an end. Perchance, this whole Ben Simmons trade saga drags to 2022, near the trade deadline. However, the Sixers do not have the time as leverage anymore. The clock is ticking. And perhaps the Pistons are about to be set for a solid future.
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