In the wake of a knee injury to Derrick Jones Jr., which will reportedly sideline him for 4 to 6 weeks, KC Johnson reports that the Bulls are tied to Pistons attacker, and oft-notorious trade target Jerami Grant.
The Bulls are one of several teams associated with Jerami Grant. A package from Williams, Jones Jr. and Portland’s protected first-round pick is the likely asking price for Grant. Multiple league sources said the current impression of the entire league is that Karnišovas appreciates and plans to retain Coby White, who coach Billy Donovan recently called “a winning player”.
If you’ve been following this (rumored) season, you know that the Bulls-Grant connection isn’t all new or out of the blue. Not only do Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan have previous experience with the 27-year-old attacker*, but the organization has seen itself in a very clear league window this season with a pretty clear gap to fill (particularly after injuries to Derrick Jones Jr. , Javonte Green and of course Patrick Williams). It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Bulls wanted to add a more win-ready piece to the power forward position before the approaching trade deadline, and Grant, who is reportedly available, makes sense for a number of reasons.
* Karnisovas was the Nuggets GM when Grant was in Denver; Donovan was the Thunder’s coach when Grant was in OKC.
But let’s be a little more specific about what makes him so attractive: Grant came on the scene last season averaging 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game. And while those numbers may have come on a Pistons team with 20 wins, it was still a breakthrough campaign that put him on the map for contenders across the league. Grant’s previous experience playing a successful 3-and-D role with the Denver Nuggets — advancing to the Western Conference Finals during the 2019-20 season with Grant starting 16 of the 19 playoff games — also shows what he can add to a winning team.
If Grant landed a similar role in Chicago, he would greatly enhance this team’s two-way potential. He is a tall and switchable defender who can help guard positions one through five. Meanwhile, he’s vastly improved as an off-the-dribble scorer, giving the Bulls one more player who can make his own shot.
But as we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, and as Johnson mentions above, any deal for Grant would likely require the inclusion of Patrick Williams and Portland’s first round (the inclusion of Derrick Jones Jr.’s expiring contract salary matching then return value). Not only does that logic match our own expectations, but James L. Edwards III of The Athletic also reported that Williams was a player the Pistons ranked highly in the 2020 NBA Draft.
But is that really a price the Bulls are now willing to pay? And even if you set the purchase cost aside, is that a move by the Bulls? want to to make?
Williams represented the first roster of this front office and Karnisovas recently shared how much he loved this current roster and how wary he was of messing with the chemistry. While Grant is certainly filling a position of need and bolstering the overall talent level on this roster, he will cost quite a bit to acquire and could change the power structure that currently exists in the Bulls locker room. Winning tends to cure everything and you don’t want that blow up too much the psychology piece in the locker room, but it’s a non-zero factor for the winning team in the East.
What’s also fascinating (confusing?) about Johnson’s above report is the belief that Karnisovas wants to keep Coby White. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade the suddenly rising and improving white either. But this goes directly against a recently surfaced report that suggested Williams was the one who would rather keep this front office than White.
REPORT: Rival drivers believe bulls are more willing to trade Coby White than Patrick Williamshttps://t.co/hBwssTkHb2 pic.twitter.com/0awoA4x5i3
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 12, 2022
The downside, of course, is that a deal around White probably won’t get you a player of Jerami Grant’s caliber. Now, maybe that will change as white continues to improve his value over the past few weeks, but that fact alone is what leaves us in a slightly confusing spot. The only thing I wonder about since the season has changed is which direction the Bulls would go on this deadline. Would they ride out the roster they have with marginal improvements or would they rock the smooth sailing boat to potentially increase their instant finals chances?
Linking to Grant suggests the latter, but what Karnisovas has said recently suggests the former (could he just be leverage?). So I have no idea where the Bulls are now… but I do know that Karnisovas probably wants it that way.