It hasn’t exactly been a year to remember for the Detroit Pistons, as the team is sitting at 12-41. And while the record shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for this rebuilding franchise, the team has underperformed. Evidence? Their preseason over/under on wins was set at 25.5 (at -110) at DraftKings, and #math shows the squad will have to go 14-15 over the last 29 games to exceed that number.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any intrigue with the team, as with the NBA trade deadline looming Thursday at 3 p.m., the Pistons might be an active participant. And one player whose name keeps coming up is the player probably most responsible for Detroit’s subpar season: wingman Jerami Grant, who missed nearly two months with a thumb injury. Heading into the season, Grant was set to be the centerpiece of the squad, but even when he was healthy, the team was 4-21. Things didn’t get much better after his injury.
As this article publishes, with about 48 hours to go before the deadline, Grant is one of the most talked-about names in the trade market.
Which team will win the Jerami Grant sweepstakes? 👀 pic.twitter.com/WulkAjVQxc
— theScore (@theScore) February 7, 2022
The reason is simple and twofold: For starters, Grant has blossomed into a legitimate star and can help any team that lands him. Secondly, after the season ends, Grant is eligible for a four-year, $112 million contract extension, which he wants. (He is otherwise under contract through the 2022-23 season.) Are the Pistons going to tie themselves to Grant? The answer really might come in the next two days, as keeping him through the deadline would clearly send the signal they do intend to — at minimum — consider locking him up.
But with another top draft pick coming to them, and with a little lottery luck, they could land Auburn’s Jabari Smith or Duke’s Paolo Banchero, two college underclassmen who are both potential generational talents and players who have similar skill sets to Grant. In short: The Pistons could replace Grant with a younger, cheaper, and potentially better player.
I think it’s safe to say Cade Cunningham is a big fan of Paolo Banchero. pic.twitter.com/5WIk0GRbTQ
— nick (@nsitto2) February 8, 2022
Listing the teams rumored to be interested in Grant is a fool’s errand, as virtually every NBA team has been mentioned as a potential suitor, although the Wizards, Kings, and Trail Blazers have “shown the most interest,” according to an Athletic article. But any team with title aspirations has to be considered in the mix.
As to what the Pistons are looking for in return? Draft picks. Lots and lots of draft picks.
Odds and ends
Meanwhile, despite the disappointing campaign, there are still options at the sportsbooks for would-be Pistons backers.
If you’re feeling particularly … well, particularly insane, PointsBet is offering 2,000/1 odds for the Pistons to win the NBA championship this year. That is probably not the best wager out there, objectively speaking.
And while Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley has become the clear favorite to win Rookie of the Year (with odds as short as -300 on FanDuel), this is one market where late season surges can sometimes happen. With that in mind, Cade Cunningham can be had for up to +800 (also at FanDuel). A longshot? Of course, but a strong finish for Cunningham — and a Mobley swoon — can’t be ruled out.
Photo: Harrison Barden/USA TODAY