Domino effect: Weaver’s shrewd call on Grant opens door to future Pistons possibility

In a clickbait world that demands instant analysis without benefit of context or perspective, bad takes get buried under an avalanche of more bad takes. Don’t worry about being wrong because no one will remember next week when there are more egregious and more recent worse takes to deflect attention.

It was always a bad idea to serve up sweeping conclusions of the merits of draft results or trade impact even in an era where roster building was more straightforward. In today’s NBA, when old-fashioned trades of talent for talent are the exception, it’s pure folly.

The Jerami Grant experience in Detroit serves as a shining example of the need to evaluate roster moves in the same way rosters are built today. Evaluating any single transaction on its own merits can miss the mark as badly as trying to extrapolate what a jigsaw puzzle will represent by looking only at its bottom row.

Remember the reaction when Grant signed with the Pistons for three years and $60 million, leaving a conference finalist on the ascent in the process? Critics, the predominant class, didn’t understand it from Grant’s perspective – especially when it was confirmed that Denver offered the same terms – and they really didn’t understand it from the Pistons’ perspective.

They were a rebuilding team led by a newly installed general manager, Troy Weaver, who earlier that very week had maneuvered with breathtaking boldness to add two additional first-round picks, an extraordinarily difficult task. Why push chips to the pile for a perceived role player that didn’t fit the timeline of a rebuild?

Two years later, the Grant signing makes eminent good sense. Weaver knew the rookies he injected into the pipeline would start off with training wheels on and needed someone he trusted to fill critical roles. He needed someone who could rescue doomed possessions by creating their own shot, someone who’d gone through the steps as a second-rounder promised nothing, someone who went about his business as a professional, someone who poured himself into the defensive end no matter what transpired at the offensive end.

It’s still too soon to assess this era of Pistons basketball, of course, this Troy Weaver Pistons restoration. But two years later the clarity of his vision on the Grant signing has come into focus like an old Polaroid print revealing itself.

Because Weaver also got it right on Saddiq Bey – after trading Luke Kennard to the Clippers to get the 19th pick, another major decision – it was now possible to multiply the benefit of getting it right on Grant, dealing him to Portland the day before the 2022 draft for a future first-round pick.

In that moment, again without the benefit of context or perspective, critics were as skeptical of the return – Milwaukee’s 2025 first-rounder – as they were of the initial move to sign Grant. Weaver didn’t even deposit the check, though, sending it on to New York 24 hours later as part of a cascading trade that wound up with the Pistons getting Charlotte’s pick at 13 used to pick – “steal” – Jalen Duren at 13.

So the decision to sign Jerami Grant to what very quickly went from an eyebrow-raising deal to an assessment of a “value contract” dominos into an uber-athletic 18-year-old big man who has the toolkit of a modern NBA starting center.

The lesson is that good decisions create an environment that expands the possibilities for future decision-making – just as bad decisions beget panicked decisions and bury teams under onerous contracts that necessitate rebuilding phases.

Weaver has made a long list of good decisions that have greatly expanded the field of possibility for the Pistons future. Jerami Grant’s tenure in Detroit lasted two seasons, but the impact of the decision to sign him could resonate for a generation.