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Report: Suns among 3 teams expected to have interest in Jerami Grant

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The Phoenix Suns will have a lot of money available for free agents.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

A reminder yesterday that rumor season is still just beginning, as the Suns have been linked to yet another free agent.

The Denver Post is reporting that the Suns, Hawks, and Pistons are expected to have interest in 6’8” F Jerami Grant. And thus the list of potential Suns targets that previously included Davis Bertans and Fred VanVleet continues to grow.

In Grant’s lone season with the Nuggets, he averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.8 blocks on 48/39/75 shooting splits.

Before even talking about Grant’s fit with Phoenix, I do feel the need to address the veracity of this report in the first place.

First off, the Suns are one of only six teams expected to have the type of cap space that would permit an acquisition this big (barring cap-clearing trades). It stands to reason then that the Suns could be linked to anybody who is of a somewhat high profile. If an unreliable source, or an agent, wants to link a player to two or three different teams, chances are high that the Suns will be tossed into the mix.

Beyond that, the report contains this sentence:

“The Suns have ties to Grant in that head coach Monty Williams is familiar with Oklahoma City. He was an associate head coach there the season before Grant arrived.”

While this is technically true, I don’t see how Grant and Williams NOT overlapping in OKC would point to a particularly strong link for the Suns. Seems like more of a coincidence.

All that being said, let’s go ahead and assume that this report is true. If it is true, then few could deny that Jerami Grant would be an impressive fit on Phoenix’s roster.

Grant is a 26-year-old power forward by nature, though his versatility is one of his greatest strengths. Grant is a multi-positional defender who can shuffle on the perimeter, match up with some of the game’s great forwards, and even protect the rim in small ball lineups.

More than any other Denver defender, Grant was entrusted to guard Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James during the Nuggets’ playoff run that just ended. Grant held Kawhi to 27-59 (46%) shooting in possessions where he served as the primary defender, and held LeBron to 15-32 (47%) shooting.

This is not to say that Grant is an All-Defense candidate, because that would be an exaggeration. But again, it’s his ability to play so many positions that has caught the eye of fans around the league. His 7’3” wingspan profiles similarly to both Oubre and Bridges, and gives him the length to contest the shot of virtually anybody. But he can also serve as an intelligent team defender, interrupting passing lanes and swatting shots as a weakside helper.

Grant’s one weakness on this end? Rebounding, where he routinely posts pitiful numbers despite his size. Grant averaged just 4.7 rebounds per 36 minutes this season, a new career low. He had one first-round performance against Utah with 0 rebounds in 40 minutes!

On offense, Grant is the definition of a “role player”. Not quite comfortable creating with the ball in his hands, his offensive skillset is mostly reduced to spotting up for threes, cutting to the rim, or leaking out in transition.

But all three of those things serve an important purpose in any offense. As a 39% three-point shooter this season, Grant would no doubt be compatible next to Deandre Ayton, and would space the floor for Booker to attack as well. The Suns were also the most efficient transition offense team in the league and ranked 10th in pace, so Grant would get his fair share of looks in the open court.

Here’s the critical question: if the Suns chase after Grant, what becomes of Kelly Oubre? With Grant having so many suitors, it’s hard to imagine him accepting a bench role.

I suppose you could move Oubre back to starting SF and Bridges back to the bench, but most Suns fans agree at this point that Mikal Bridges needs to start going forward. That’s where the Oubre trade ideas start to resurface once again.

Forgive me for going full conspiracy theorist on you for a second, but think about this: some outlets have previously suggested the idea of the Suns flipping Oubre and the 10th pick to Golden State for the 2nd overall pick. If the Suns got a verbal agreement from Grant to be their starting PF, what sort of doors could owning the 2nd overall pick open?

Does Ayton and the 2nd pick start a conversation with Minnesota about Karl-Anthony Towns? Does it start a conversation with Portland about Damian Lillard?

Think about it, but now let’s go back to the land of reality where such events have effectively zero chance of happening.

I’ve posted this video of mine once before, but in case you missed it: an 11-minute scouting report on Jerami Grant’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as his fit with Phoenix. Check out the sweet shooting stroke and insane athleticism for yourself.