Before this season even began, many expected the Sixers to trade a member of their crowded front court. The summer was filled with rumors of offers for Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. In a somewhat surprising move just two games into the season, the first to be shipped out was actually Jerami Grant.
Philadelphia announced on Tuesday afternoon that it had traded the third year forward to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for 29-year old Ersan Ilyasova as well as a conditional first round draft pick. The first round pick is heavily protected, meaning it could turn into multiple second round picks or simply not reach the Sixers for a few years.
“This is a unique deal that allows us to address both short term needs and longer term goals at the same time,” General Manager Bryan Colangelo said.
Ilyasova, a 6’10” forward from Turkey, has 10 seasons under his belt and is no stranger to being traded. After seven seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Ilyasova was traded to the Pistons in 2015, then to the Orlando Magic in 2016, and later at this year’s NBA draft to the Thunder. In 10 seasons he has averaged 10.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist per contest. As a career 36.9% shooter from three point range, Ilyasova will bring more scoring and spacing to a Sixers lineup that desperately needs it. Whether he comes off the bench or supplants Dario Saric in the starting lineup, the four-spot will in theory be occupied by a capable scorer at all times. He has one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $8.4 million this year.
As for Jerami Grant, in this instance he is simply the victim of circumstance. It was doubtful that he’d ever be able to carve out a meaningful role on this roster. Despite ferocious athleticism and a fair defensive acumen, Grant was never able to improve his jump shot (he was just a career 26% shooter from three, and his true shooting percentage, which accounts for threes, twos, and free throws, is just 49%) and thus his offensive upside was limited. With the impending return on Ben Simmons, it’s hard to picture where Grant would fit into the lineup. He is still young and could provide energy off the bench for the Thunder, but his future was not with Philadelphia. In this shrewd move, the Sixers were able to swap Grant with a more valuable player (Ilyasova) as well as a future draft pick, whenever that may arrive.
Ilyasova could play his first game tomorrow against the Charlotte Hornets, or on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.