The first shoe has dropped as Bryan Colangelo enters the second week of his first full season as the president of basketball operations for the 76ers, and no, it didn't involve trading Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor. On Monday the Sixers traded 22-year-old Jerami Grant to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and a future first round pick (protected 1-20) that can't be conveyed until 2020. Grant has been a player the Thunder have been reportedly pursuing for a while now, and the 76ers have been seeking to move out of the tanking stage and into the building-a-foundation stage. It's cliche to write a hot-take article of who won and lost the trade (although the push-back against these type of articles has become a cliche in of itself), let's try and deduce why both sides felt like it was a good deal.
Why did the 76ers make the deal?
There could be a number of reasons why the 76ers front office decided to pull the trigger on this deal but you can look at the basic logistics and see how this deal actually benefits the organization in the long run.
While Jerami Grant is an athletic wing that has made strides since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft, he hasn't developed to the point where keeping him any longer benefits a team that is still establishing what type of team they exactly want to be. Grant is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and it wouldn't have made sense to pay him big money when the 76ers are now establishing their foundation of youth with the influx of talent that came in this year. Grant's best position is playing a small ball 4, but because he is still raw, an inconsistent offensive player and plays behind rookies Ben Simmons and Dario Saric who provide more versatility at that position, Grant was expendable.
In return, the Sixers received Ersan Ilyasova and his expiring contract. In the short term, Ilyasova can play starter minutes as Dario Saric comes off the bench to maybe develop more effectively (he would have been coming off the bench anyway if it wasn't for the Ben Simmons injury). The 29-year-old Ilyasova not only provides the team with another NBA veteran he also serves as an extra shooter at the power forward spot, that means Brett Brown doesn't ever have to experiment again with a Jahlil Okafor-Joel Embiid front court combination that was really bad in limited minutes this past Saturday's game against Atlanta.
Also included in the deal was the aforementioned draft pick I mentioned earlier, which shows that the team is also planning for the future while also benefiting from the short-term gains. You don't have to spend money on Grant, and you don't necessarily have to re-sign Ilyasova after the season is over.
How the trade benefits Oklahoma City
The Thunder got to unload an expiring contract that put themselves an additional 7 million dollars under the salary cap, meanwhile, they get Jerami Grant who is an athletic wing who can run alongside the athletic horses in OKC. His aggressive Tasmanian Devil style of defense will fit in with the team's defensive make-up.
Grant definitely plays hard, draws a lot of fouls and is one of the most violent shot blockers at the perimeter position. Those qualities will definitely fit in controlled minutes alongside Russell Westbrook who has been drawing so much attention that he can just make simple dump off passes to cutters like Grant, or Andre Roberson.
In the end, both teams have seemed to come out with a net gain in this trade. The Sixers don't have to worry about committing to an expendable piece while filling in the short term needs of the roster, while the Thunder gain some cap wiggle room while taking a flyer on some more youth and athleticism on the roster.
This trade could be the first domino to fall, making the pathway for some more Colangelo moves down the line.