Jerami Grant chose to leave the Nuggets to play in Detroit for the Pistons

Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant (9) celebrates defeating the against the Detroit Pistons at the Pepsi Center.
Feb 25, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant (9) celebrates defeating the against the Detroit Pistons at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This is about as bad of news as the Denver Nuggets could have had in free agency.

After doing what they could to keep Jerami Grant in Denver for the long haul, multiple league sources has confirmed that the Nuggets have lost Jerami Grant in free agency to the Detroit Pistons, stunning the Nuggets who had sent a first-round pick last offseason to acquire him from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report that Grant agreed to his new deal with Detroit.

According to two league sources, Grant chose to leave Denver because Detroit promised a bigger role for him than the Nuggets could have offered. Those same sources also stated that this was not about Denver being unwilling to match the contract offered by the Pistons, but about Grant wanting to pursue a bigger role. Denver actually offered the same three-year deal worth a total of $60 million to Grant and were turned down anyway according to two league sources.

For the Nuggets, they are in a tough position now. They only have two bigs on their guaranteed roster in Nikola Jokic and newly drafted rookie Zeke Nnaji. Bol Bol is still on a two-way contract and Paul Millsap is still an unrestricted free agent. Denver needs to find a way to bolster their front court direly, but that is much easier said than done.

Denver only has about $5 million in cap space, the full Mid-Level Exception, and their Bi-Annual Exception to sign new players other than veteran minimum deals which rarely move the needle. So that means Denver either needs to look to trade away salary to open cap space to replace Grant, identify a trade target they could chase to replace Grant, or use the handful of methods at their disposal to try and find someone who can replace Grant’s contributions.

To put it plainly, Denver will not be able to replace everything that Grant brought to them. The amount of players who can defend five positions, hit three-point shots at a 40% clip, and also play way above the rim can be counted on one hand. With their best offer now being the Mid-Level Exception, worth just $9.3 million each season, Denver is in a dangerous spot.

Denver is now turning their attention to bolstering their front court and that likely includes attempting to retain Paul Millsap, but only time will tell if they will be able to repair this loss.

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