Why the Hawks are likely to steal Jerami Grant from the Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets want to keep Jerami Grant but it won’t be easy to keep him away from the Atlanta Hawks.

Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant, only 26-years-old and in the prime of his career, is a combo forward with two-way impact.

Telegraphing his intent to decline his player option for the 2020-21 season as early as July, many have anticipated that Grant will be one of the most sought after free agents this offseason. Now, thanks to a report from Mike Singer of The Denver Post, it’s been revealed that there are “at least three other teams” expected to go after Grant.

“Those three teams are the Atlanta Hawks, the Phoenix Suns and the Detroit Pistons” writes Singer.

In terms of star power, 2020 will have a relatively thin crop of free agents that likely headlined by players like Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Danilo Gallinari. Because it’s said to be a guard’s game these days, players like VanVleet or Jordan Clarkson look even more attractive for teams looking to upgrade their talent.

However, many of the best players in the league — LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis — are actually playing forward, which underscores the importance of the position. As a result, reliable combo forwards that can go toe-to-toe with star forwards on the defensive end have a lot to offer to contending teams.

The best outside suitor for Grant

Out of the Hawks, Suns and Pistons, Atlanta likely has the best chance to be a playoff contender.

They have a strong young core, headlined by Trae Young and John Collins. They also play in a conference where there’s a greater chance of making the playoffs.

That’s not to say that the Suns or Pistons have no chance of reaching the playoffs.

Like the Hawks, the Suns have found cornerstone players in the draft: Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Phoenix was actually so close to sneaking into the 2020 NBA Playoffs that they were one of the 22 teams invited to play seeding games in the bubble.

As far as Detroit, a healthy Blake Griffin (who only played 18 games last season) could make all the difference.

That said, if this short list of teams who have interest in Grant find themselves in a bidding war with the Nuggets, the Hawks have legitimate chance to pry him away.

What the Hawks have to offer

With a projected $43.2 million in cap space this offseason, Atlanta has more money to throw at Grant than any team. Being able and willing to pay more for Grant’s services than anyone else, an effect of him declining a player option in a three-year deal, is the primary reason why the Hawks will have an edge on Denver.

He may not be a starter with Atlanta as he was with the Nuggets but, frankly, there was no guarantee that he would remain the starter in Denver next season.

As far as the Hawks are concerned, Collins’ starting spot at power forward is all but set in stone. Meanwhile, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are terrific defenders who can make big shots at small forward. That makes being the backup power forward the most likely option for Grant, a role he’s familiar with and one that won’t necessarily impact his minutes. The versatility of players like Collins, Reddish and Hunter will allow him to play beside all three at times, even if Clint Capela is on the court.

Assuming that the Nuggets offer Grant a role that he prefers but the Hawks offer more money, the decision could come down to location.

Denver, an eclectic city, is both an interesting and pleasing place to live. However, Atlanta is a hub of art and culture; a city that has major music artists promoting the team while a plethora of stars (past and present) frequent the games.

In addition, with Grant’s father and uncle (Harvey and Horace Grant) originally from Georgia, playing in Atlanta could have something similar to a hometown feel to it.

Will the Hawks be more competitive than the Nuggets?

The possibility of making it to the NBA Finals with the Nuggets should factor into Grant’s decision as well. However, after getting rolled by the Los Angeles Lakers and barely escaping the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz, Grant may not feel like Denver reaching the Finals is as close as others feel.

Especially with the Golden State Warriors ready to return to center stage and teams like the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans looking to get over the hump.

In the East, there are several teams that could reach the Finals in the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.

Yet, the Hawks’ roster is actually talented enough to go toe-to-toe with any of these teams. Adding Grant could be their x-factor when it comes to guarding guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons.

Related Story: 3 players to replace Grant in free agency

All things considered, the edge goes to the Hawks, if ever so slightly.