NBA Free Agency Report: Denver Nuggets Likely to Keep Jerami Grant
The Denver Nuggets appear to be a few moves away from getting over the hump and winning at least the Western Conference in the near future. The Nuggets pulled off a huge upset over the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, where they needed to erase the 3-1 series lead of the title favorites. However, the Nuggets got ran over in the Western Conference Finals by eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets might try to add marquee players through trades or free agency, but they also have decisions to make on their current players. Jerami Grant, who turned heads during the postseason for the Nuggets, is expected to turn down his $9.3 million player option next season to become a free agent. Based on how he performed in the playoffs last season, it will not be a surprise if he gets a lot of offers on the market.
According to Barry Johnson of the Miami Herald, the Miami Heat are expected to express strong interest in signing Grant. Like the Nuggets, the Heat were also close to winning the title last season but they also failed to win against the LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led Lakers. Miami is already being tagged as very attractive destination for free agents after their performance last season and because of the credibility of the organization.
The Lakers, despite winning the 17th championship in franchise history last season, is not expected to rest on their laurels. In fact, the Lakers are also being tagged as a potential landing spot for Grant, especially after James was seen talking to him after the Western Conference Finals. The 26-year-old forward was also mentioned as options for other contenders like the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors.
However, signing Grant would be easier said than done for teams other than the Nuggets. According to Philip Lindsey, he expects the Nuggets to do anything to keep Grant in Denver. He said that Grant was too valuable for them last season to let him go for nothing. Lindsey also pointed out that the Nuggets cannot afford to lose the versatile forward if they want to remain a serious contender in the stacked Western Conference next season.
"It seems like a no-brainer to re-sign Grant," Lindsey said. "The versatile power forward offers the team so much at his position and they would have a hard time replacing him. For that reason, it’s hard to imagine Denver wouldn’t match any offer he receives if he does indeed become a free agent."
Grant averaged 12.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 71 games during the regular season. His impact to Denver was felt to the most during the Western Conference Finals, where he posted 15.8 points and 3.6 boards to go along with 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Grant posted the impressive numbers while also earning praises for defending James and Davis well on the other end of the floor.
Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has already said that they will prioritize keeping their own free agents. Mason Plumlee, Paul Millsap, Troy Daniels, and Noah Vonleh will all become unrestricted free agents this offseason, while Torrey Craig will be a restricted free agent. Connelly said that they want to keep their image as an organization who values players who have helped them succeed.
"When we can, we take care of our own," Connelly said via The Denver Post. "And we do it with a smile on our face, and we do it cognizant of how it could affect the relationship both short- and long-term. Certainly we could’ve taken a different approach. Go prove it, go earn it. We thought he had already earned it. You can be a bit too cute at times if you don’t take care of the guys that have gotten you here."
As for the Heat, if they fail to sign Grant or even keep Jae Crowder this offseason, Lindsey thinks that they should consider signing Montrezl Harrell. Although he was not much of a factor during their playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets, Harrell's stock is on all-time high at this point after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
Harrell averaged 18.6 points on 58 percent shooting from the field to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, doing it while coming off the bench in 61 of the 63 games he played last season. The Clippers will likely keep him, but Lindsey thinks that he would be a great addition to the Heat even just for a one-season rental. The Heat are expected to offer one-year deals to marquee players because they want to keep their cap space for 2021.
"The Miami Heat are among the teams that could offer the 26-year-old power forward the most money right now, and he would make a perfect replacement for Jae Crowder," Lindsey said of Crowder. "He’s not nearly as good on defense but he presents another solid option to a team that went on scoring droughts in the NBA finals. This could be a great fit for the Heat, even if it’s just for the time being."
Milwaukee Bucks Could Sign Bogdan Bogdanovic to Make Giannis Antetokounmpo Happy
The Milwaukee Bucks are facing a tough offseason following their disappointing exit in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo could become a free agent after next season. The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player is not expected to sign a contract extension with the Bucks but has expressed willingness to stay in Milwaukee as long as the team will put him in a good position to win a championship.
If they fail to at least win the Eastern Conference title next season, the Bucks are likely to lose Antetokounmpo in free agency. Several teams like the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors are reportedly preparing to make a run at Antetokounmpo next year, but the Bucks are expected to look for big moves to keep him happy in Milwaukee. The Bucks are already being linked to several free agents, including Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Shams Charania of The Athletic previously reported that the Bucks are interested in Sacramento Kings shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who will become a restricted free agent this offseason. The 28-year-old forward is an ideal option for the Bucks because of his shooting, ball-handling, and his age. However, Bogdanovic will not come cheap, and the Kings have the right to match any offer to the 6-foot-6 guard.
"Bogdanovic is 28. That's not young, but it's younger than Middleton, Hill, Bledsoe and both Lopez twins. Milwaukee's goal is to win now, but proving to Giannis that his window isn't closing after this season matters as well," Sam Quinn of CBS Sports said. "Bogdanovic's age is going to make him the most expensive option on the table. He's also a restricted free agent, meaning he can't leave the Kings without their approval."
If the Bucks are determined to acquire Bogdanovic, Quinn said that they would need to convince the Kings to agree to a sign-and-trade deal. However, it would be easier said than done because that would mean the Kings will have to commit to Buddy Hield as their starting shooting guard, and the 27-year-old is reportedly no longer happy in Sacramento. The Bucks could offer draft compensation, but the Kings might ask for more before agreeing to a trade.
The Bucks are also being linked to superstar point guard Chris Paul, who could be traded if the Oklahoma City Thunder decide to go on a full rebuild. Getting another superstar would appeal to Antetokounmpo, but Eric Nehm of The Athletic said that Milwaukee is unlikely to acquire him because of financial factors. Paul, who is already 35 years old, still has two years left in his contract that would pay him around $85.6 million.
If the Bucks really want to add a veteran playmaker to make life easier for Antetokounmpo, Quinn said that they should consider signing Goran Dragic. The veteran point guard will become a free agent, and his age and injury history might discourage the Heat from offering a long-term deal, considering the fact that they are preparing to pursue Antetokounmpo when he becomes a free agent next year.
"His window for another big contract is closing," Quinn said of Dragic. "Miami's planned pursuit of Giannis will prevent it making a multiyear deal, but with Bird rights, it could offer him up to the max for a single season. If he'd rather have four years of security at over $40 million in total, the Bucks have a shot here, and the secondary advantage is that it would hurt the Heat in a possible playoff rematch."
Dragic showed during the regular season that he still has a lot of gas left in his tank. In 59 games, he averaged a team's second-best 16.2 points to go along with 5.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds. The 34-year-old point guard also averaged 19.6 points during the playoffs, but he failed to make an impact during the NBA Finals, missing four games due to a torn plantar fascia, which could hound him in the next several seasons.