Winners and Losers of Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz's Bojan Bogdanovic Trade
Home improvement shows love to show you scenes of "demolition day." The Utah Jazz have given you an entire demolition summer.
On Thursday, another piece of the old core was removed. In the wake of the megadeals that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Jazz traded sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons for Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee.
The return came as a surprise to many for various reasons.
First of all, reports had long suggested that Utah believed Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson were each worth a first-round pick. Given the hard bargain that CEO Danny Ainge drove in the aforementioned blockbusters, it was easy to take those reports seriously.
The deal the Jazz wound up taking obviously doesn't include a pick. And the younger player coming back (Lee) is already 23 years old, was taken in the second round in 2020 and doesn't bring an impressive statistical profile from Detroit.
For a rebuilding team, bringing back a veteran who's under contract for next season is a bit of a head-scratcher, too (although Olynyk's salary is about half of what Bogdanovic's was).
Ultimately, this looks like an attempt to simply clear the old roster (or continue the demo summer) ahead of training camp, and the winners and losers are pretty clear.
Winner: Detroit Pistons
A win-now move for the Pistons might seem a little odd. Most of the rumored or predicted Bogdanovic suitors were contenders or teams that may have been a piece or two away from contending.
Detroit is not that.
Bogdanovic makes the team better, but he certainly doesn't vault it into the East's top tier (or second tier). What he does do is make life easier for the potential star the Pistons already have.
Cade Cunningham turns 21 this month. He's coming off a strong rookie campaign in which he averaged 17.4 points and 5.6 assists surrounded by teammates who shot a woeful 32.8 percent from three (league average last season was 35.4).
Bogdanovic, meanwhile, averaged 6.8 three-point attempts and hit 39.7 percent of his threes during his three seasons with the Jazz. There are only four players (Evan Fournier, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Duncan Robinson) who matched or exceeded both marks during that stretch.
Giving Cade one of the game's most reliable, high-volume floor-spacers will make him better, and not just by boosting his assist totals. Now, at least one perimeter defender will have to honor the three-point line when Cade goes to the rim, and widening those driving lanes has real value.
This move probably costs the Pistons some losses, which will obviously hurt their lottery odds, but they already have their foundational piece. And adding a player who'll help him is well worth the cost.
Loser: Utah Jazz
Utah is branded a "loser" based on little more than the fact that it didn't get a first-rounder for Bogdanovic.
Of course, we're not on the phone calls between Ainge and front offices around the league. Maybe no one was offering a first. Or perhaps those that were had other strings attached that the Jazz just couldn't accommodate.
Regardless, bringing a non-top-flight prospect (even if Utah is higher on Lee than others) and a veteran it'll have to pay next season (barring another trade) feels like a loss. Only $3 million of Olynyk's 2023-24 salary is guaranteed, but Bogdanovic is on a true expiring contract.
Of course, the door isn't closed on the Jazz improving this haul. If Olynyk can stay healthy and perform the way he has for the last five years (he's averaged 10.6 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 threes over that span), a team desperate for frontcourt depth may make a move for him at the deadline.
That kind of enhancement of the trade feels more likely for the Pistons, though. The possibility that Bogdanovic could average close to 20 points and shoot 40 percent from three is very much in play in Detroit, and that could certainly fetch a first from a contender in February.
Winner: Teams in the Market for Conley and Clarkson
As stated before, it sure looked like the Jazz were going to dig their heels in and insist on the inclusion of first-round picks in any deals for the veterans left after the Gobert and Mitchell trades.
With training camp right around the corner and this Bogdanovic news now in the open, the teams in the market for Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley should be blowing up Ainge's phone.
After getting the absurd values he did for the stars, maybe Ainge is a little more open to less-than-stellar deals for the others.
Clarkson and Conley are longtime professionals, so you probably shouldn't expect them to make things any more awkward than they already are, but bringing them to training camp is hardly ideal. The potential trades will be hanging over their heads (not to mention the coach's and their teammates) until deals are struck.
Getting decent returns for each, entering the season with the fully overhauled roster and stacking up losses ahead of the 2023 lottery have to be the preferred route.
Loser (for Now): Los Angeles Lakers
Within the last week, reports pegged the Los Angeles Lakers as a suitor for Bogdanovic, and it's not hard to see why.
In the twilight of LeBron James' career, L.A. has assembled a roster that doesn't really fit him and doesn't figure to contend for a championship in 2022-23.
Bogdanovic may not have been a cure-all, but he certainly would've made the team better.
With LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers front office should be in the market for as many shooters as it can possibly find. Bogdanovic is one of the best.
Seeing him go to a non-contender for an underwhelming return has to have Lakers fans (and maybe even the front office) feeling a little confused.
Is that really all it took? Why didn't we beat that offer?
There's no guarantee Bogdanovic is done moving, though. If he puts up big numbers during this final season of his contract, organizations could come calling in February. The Lakers should be one of them.