NBA Free Agents 2020: Predictions for Christian Wood, Jerami Grant, MoreMay 14, 2020
Christian Wood could earn one of the top pay increases of the NBA offseason.
The Detroit Pistons center has turned himself into an every-night contributor ahead of an offseason that will not have an abundance of options for teams to choose from.
Wood's production after Andre Drummond's departure at the trade deadline leaves the Pistons with an expensive decision to make, albeit one that will be cheaper than keeping the league's top rebounder.
Jerami Grant has also put himself in a position to earn a pay raise if he hits free agency, but he has more control over his situation than Wood with a player option for next season on his contract.
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Wood's increase in production correlated with Drummond's departure to Cleveland.
Before Drummond was dealt February 6, Wood produced back-to-back 20-point games once.
After that juncture, the 24-year-old had three different streaks with 20-plus points, including a five-game run before the NBA season was suspended that featured a pair of double-doubles.
Detroit currently has eight players under contract for next season, but the three top earners are 28 or older.
Retaining Wood and combining him with a few other young players and a high first-round selection could help the Pistons set the foundation for their future.
The UNLV product is due for an increase from the $1.6 million he is making this season, but the pay raise likely will not price Detroit out of contention.
However, the Eastern Conference side may face a challenge to re-sign him since there should be interest from elsewhere.
According to The Athletic's James L. Edwards III, the Boston Celtics "inquired about Wood on more than one occasion."
Boston could face difficulties getting that done since its priority would be retaining Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter.
Hayward's player option alone would cost the Celtics $34.1 million, so if they make upgrades from outside, it would likely be for cheaper role players.
Edwards mentioned New York and Charlotte as other possible landing spots, but neither will have the chance to land Wood if his heart is set on staying with the Pistons.
If Detroit combines Griffin and Wood down low and makes a backcourt or wing addition in the 2020 NBA draft, like Deni Avdija or Tyrese Haliburton, it could take some steps forward next season.
Prediction: Wood generates interest from elsewhere but re-signs with Detroit.
Grant could opt to remain with the Denver Nuggets on a $9.3 million player option, but he may be able to earn more.
With the free-agent list not expected to be as crowded as 2019 and the 2021 class headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo already generating buzz, this summer could be ideal for the 26-year-old to cash in.
Grant produced back-to-back double-digit scoring seasons as a starter with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Nuggets.
The Athletic's Nick Kosmider noted the Syracuse product may not opt in because of the money he could earn elsewhere.
"Grant is unlikely to trigger the $9 million player option on his contract because there will be a multiyear deal waiting for him, and it's one that will almost certainly pay him eight figures annually," he wrote.
Losing Grant to free agency would be tough for Denver to swallow after it sent a first-round pick to Oklahoma City to acquire his services.
There is a chance the Nuggets bring him back on a larger deal, but they have to figure out what to do with unrestricted free agent Paul Millsap as well.
Grant is nine years younger than Millsap and is making $20 million less than Denver's top earner, who plays the same position.
Denver could let Grant assess his options while it figures out what to do at power forward. If the Nuggets believe he can produce as a starter, they could bring him back on a larger multi-year deal.
That strategy would make sense since Denver conceded valuable draft capital to land him in the first place.
Prediction: Grant explores free-agent market but returns to Denver.
Millsap can still contribute in a large capacity next season, but he will not be on an enormous salary.
The 35-year-old is making $30.3 million at the back end of a three-year deal and might be on the way out of Denver if it prefers to spend more on Grant.
If the Nuggets can make the finances work, they could retain both players and have the elder forward land in a bench role.
If Millsap's three-year stay with the Nuggets comes to an end, the Phoenix Suns could be an intriguing option.
Phoenix could use a veteran frontcourt presence alongside Deandre Ayton, and Millsap could be viewed as an upgrade to Frank Kaminsky at power forward.
The Louisiana Tech product is averaging 12 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from three-point range this season.
Meanwhile, Kaminsky is a 34.8 percent shooter from beyond the arc and has 11 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest.
If the Suns and Millsap have mutual interest, the Western Conference side could field a well-rounded starting lineup that features the power forward, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Prediction: Millsap lands in Phoenix.
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Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference
Contract information obtained from Spotrac