The Detroit Pistons might end up benefitting from the NBA's deep pool of teams this season.
With the advent of the play-in tournament, more teams are in the running for the playoffs, and when combined with a robust Eastern Conference not seen in perhaps a decade or more, there are far more teams believing they are in the playoff hunt.
The Pistons surely are not — they own the NBA's worst record at 4-22 and have lost 12 straight — but that makes them one of the few sellers on the trade market. And the competition might drive up the price for their most attractive potential trade asset in Jerami Grant.
And the NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to heat up.
Grant is "one of the most sought-after players in a potential trade," with the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers among the teams pursuing him, Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote Monday in his Inside Pass column.
"Dozens of teams call the Detroit front office about Grant each week, and sources said the team is open to a possible deal," Charania wrote.
PISTONS MAILBAG: Early look at 2022 NBA draft's tantalizing talent
Complicating things for now is Grant tore ligaments in his right thumb Friday diving for a loose ball in New Orleans, and will be reevaluated in six weeks.
That puts him on track for a potential return in late January, ahead of the February 10 trade deadline.
Grant, who turns 28 in March, is in the second year of a three-year deal worth $60 million signed 13 months ago, a stunning move in general manager Troy Weaver's first offseason. Grant makes $20 million this season and $21 million in the final year of the contract.
The deal was widely questioned at the time, as Grant had been known as complementary player in a 3-and-D role.
But he quickly showed the contract was well worth it, garnering All-Star consideration last season as the Pistons' No. 1 option. He averaged 22.3 points per game for a team that went 20-52, though his 49.1% effective field goal percentage — a high-level indicator which combines 2s and 3s for a better composition of shooting compared to field goal percentage — ranked well below league average of 53.8%.
Grant's eFG% this season has dropped to a paltry 46.9% — league average is 52.1% this season as scoring is down across the NBA — and he's averaging 20.1 points in 24 games, and for the second straight season is attempting more than six free throws per game.
He's best suited in more of the three-and-D role he previously played on playoff teams in Denver and Oklahoma City, but has certainly shown he can carry a team offensively on some nights, while continuing to provide versatile defense.
Grant is eligible for a four-year extension worth up to $112 million after this season, a significant raise that would pay $28 million per season, and Charania wrote interested teams understand Grant will command a salary close to that number.
This week serves as the unofficial beginning of trade season, with Wednesday opening up far more possibilities because most players signed in the offseason will be eligible to be traded.
And the four-day G League Showcase begins Sunday in Las Vegas, where executives will gather in the NBA's less formal version of major league baseball's winter meetings.
Gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content all year long. Take advantage of our latest special offer at $29 for a year.
Stay informed on what's happening across Michigan: Subscribe to our news alert emails.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Jerami Grant a hot commodity on trade market