By unloading Eric Gordon in a trade, the Houston Rockets can free up some salary to give Jerami Grant the contract he’s earned.
The Denver Nuggets made a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals this postseason. While Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were the main reasons, Jerami Grant had a breakout party of his own, particularly against the Los Angeles Lakers. With Grant becoming a free agent this offseason, the Houston Rockets would be wise to make a play for the up-and-coming forward.
Although the Nuggets overperformed in this year’s playoffs, that won’t be enough to entice him to stay with them at his discounted rate. As Denver Post writer Mike Singer reported in late September, Grant is expected to opt out of his contract, since he’s vastly outplayed the $9.3 million due to him next season.
It will ultimately come down to if Grant and the Nuggets can agree on a deal that works better for both sides, but given his upside and age, the Rockets would be foolish not to try their hardest to pursue the 6-8 forward.
How the Houston Rockets can free up space for Grant
I’ll start by saying this — given the Rockets’ current state financially, a play for Grant would take several things going right. As Twitter user @geola388 suggested to me in these ideas, moving Eric Gordon would be essential, given how his salary is eating up so much available capital.
Both scenarios would involve trading Gordon, but other things would need to happen as well. Austin Rivers would also have to decline his player option, which seems likely. The Rockets would also have to waive David Nwaba, Chris Clemons, and Ben McLemore.
Of course, considering the value McLemore gives with his outside shooting on a minuscule contract, that move would be tough without assurance from Grant that he was open to going to Houston. As an alternative to cutting Ben, the Rockets could move P.J. Tucker, who’s older and on an expiry contract.
The loss of Tucker’s defensive toughness would be sorely missed, but Grant’s defensive upside and the fact that he’s nine years younger would soften the blow. His defense on LeBron James in the Western Conference Finals showed the extent of his potential. Seeing him and Robert Covington on the court switching on the perimeter would be a sight to behold.
Next: The Trade