Jerami Grant became eligible for a contract extension with the Trail Blazers earlier this month, and Portland has offered the athletic forward his maximum possible deal of four years, $112 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Grant has not accepted the offer, sources said, largely because the Blazers can extend him a larger contract with an additional fifth-year when free agency begins June 30.
At that point, Grant, who turns 29 in March, could receive $233 million over a five-year framework, although that upper range appears unrealistic. Grant has been on the record about his interest in sticking with Portland long term. He and franchise focal point Damian Lillard have held a close connection since playing on Team USA during the 2021 Olympics.
The rest of the Blazers’ roster seems far more unsettled ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline. Portland has given rival teams the impression the Blazers are open to discussing the majority of their players, particularly Josh Hart and Jusuf Nurkic, sources said, as the franchise remains committed to building a playoff contender around Lillard. Portland has engaged teams with an eye towards size with athleticism, plus wing-shooting defenders, sources said. Hart has become one of the buzzier names among league executives this week, as he’s expected to decline a $12.9 million player option for the 2023-2024 season.
Nuggets’ decision to make
After his name was discussed in trade conversations around last June’s NBA Draft, Denver has begun gauging the trade value of second-year guard Bones Hyland, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Nuggets have something of a decision to make regarding the team’s backup point guard position, previously held by Monte Morris — who was traded to Washington this past offseason — as Hyland and standout free-agent acquisition Bruce Brown have both proven their ability to function as Denver’s reserve lead ball handler.
Like Hart, Brown is expected to decline his $6.9 million player option for next season, which could make it difficult for the Nuggets to retain the versatile swingman. While Hyland still has two more years remaining on his rookie deal, an anticipation of Brown’s next payday, plus Hyland’s upcoming second contract, has the tax-conscious Nuggets considering their options in the backcourt. Occasional clashes between Hyland and head coach Michael Malone’s old-school mentality have also been a factor in Denver’s trade dialogue, sources said.
In exchange for Hyland, the Nuggets have expressed an interest in defensive-minded frontcourt players, sources said, and will search for a player plus a first-round pick. Moving Hyland, while prepared for the risk of losing Brown in free agency, will also have Denver considering returns that could net another reserve point guard, sources said. As far as potential suitors, former Denver president Tim Connelly, now piloting the Timberwolves’ front office, is still considered a big supporter of Hyland.
Milwaukee continues search for defense
The Bucks’ pursuit of disgruntled Suns forward Jae Crowder has been well-documented. Before Washington traded Rui Hachimura to Los Angeles, the Wizards were in significant conversations with both Phoenix and Milwaukee on a three-team concept, sources said, that would have sent Hachimura to the Suns and Crowder to the Bucks.
Milwaukee has used Grayson Allen and second-round picks in various outgoing trade packages, sources said, in hopes of landing a defensive-minded forward within the range of $10 million of average annual salary. It seems clear the Bucks are prioritizing starting-level players and have even pursued Rockets wing Eric Gordon, who is far more of a wing than a frontcourt presence, and is owed $19.6 million this season before next year’s completely non-guaranteed salary.
Keep an eye on the Pelicans
New Orleans has been repeatedly mentioned as a suitor for Hawks forward John Collins, and the Pelicans have certainly registered their interest with Atlanta, sources told Yahoo Sports. The two teams would seem to be natural trade partners, with the Hawks eager to add defensive-minded players and the Pelicans looking to find greater offense and more shooting, although there has yet to be significant traction between the two teams, sources said.
Any pursuit of Collins, or a dreamier target like Raptors forward OG Anunoby — should the Raptors truly make him available — would induce some critical accounting for New Orleans’ cap sheet, however. The Pelicans have been pleased with Jonas Valanciunas’ fit next to Zion Williamson, sources said, but Collins or Anunoby would both appear to be maximized next to Williamson as small-ball centers. And New Orleans has shown a long history of avoiding the luxury tax. The Hawks, meanwhile, have no mandate to trade Collins, sources said, and Atlanta appears open to keeping the 25-year-old forward if no value deal materializes before the Feb. 9 deadline.
The Pelicans have discussed Jaxson Hayes, Naji Marshall and Devonte’ Graham in preliminary conversations around the league, sources said. Hayes will become a restricted free agent this offseason. Graham still has two years at over $12 million for each season remaining on his contract.
Jazz remain active
Utah continues to dial opposing front offices in hopes of fetching positive returns for Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mike Conley, among other veterans, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Jazz have not relented in their stance that breakout forward Lauri Markkanen and standout rookie center Walker Kessler are unavailable via trade. While the Clippers have shown interest in Conley, one source with knowledge of the matter described any trade with Los Angeles landing the lefty point guard as unrealistic.