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Free-agent forward Jerami Grant agreed to a 3‑year, $60 million deal with the Detroit Pistons on Friday, a league source told to The Denver Post, leaving the Nuggets in an extremely precarious situation at the start of free agency.
Even more dispiriting, the Nuggets gave Grant the exact same offer he got from Detroit, yet the free agent power forward 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 upon the start of free agency, Grant was presented a more significant role with the Pistons that appealed to him more than staying in Denver.
In all likelihood, Grant would’ve been the starting power forward of a championship contending squad. Instead, he’ll feature with the Pistons, who finished 20–46 last season.
The Nuggets had publicly deemed Grant their top priority this offseason, and it remains unclear what their plan is at power forward or how they’ll pivot.
One option became clearer Friday. The Nuggets have shown interest in free-agent power forward JaMychal Green, a league source said.
The Nuggets also have to consider the future of free-agent Paul Millsap, who might’ve become more important as a result of Grant’s departure. Millsap, according to a source, was waiting to see how the market would develop at the start of free agency.
Due to their limited salary cap space, the Nuggets likely won’t be able to find a player of Grant’s caliber, which made the news even more unsettling. At Grant’s introductory news conference last season, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said he’d hope the versatile forward would be in Denver for years.
Now Grant is gone after just one year, after the Nuggets traded a first-round pick to Oklahoma City for him last offseason.
Grant has a longstanding relationship with new Pistons executive Troy Weaver, who was with Grant in Oklahoma City. Weaver was also a former Syracuse assistant, where Grant went to college.
With so much uncertainty in Denver’s frontcourt, keeping Grant in the fold was essential. The Nuggets lose his length and his defensive versatility, two key factors in their run to the Western Conference Finals this past season. Denver was viewed as the perfect place for him since he could play off superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, settling into a supporting role for a contender.
Evidently, he wanted to be more heavily featured than what the Nuggets could offer.
Grant averaged 12 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 39% from 3‑point range in his first season in Denver. He started 16 of 19 playoff games, filling in for injured small forward Will Barton.