Mystery of Bojan Bogdanovic trade to Pistons for pittance solved

Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz drives into Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons . (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz drives into Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons . (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The trade of Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons was a head scratcher to many NBA experts. Why would the tanking-hard Utah Jazz send a really good player to a  rebuilding team, for very little in return? It appears the mystery may have been solved.

When the news broke about the Bojan Bogdanovic trade, Piston Powered readers reacted like most Detroit fans: it was basically highway robbery.

Bogdanovic is maybe not at an All-Star level, but the 6-foot-7 forward is a top level player who had helped the Jazz be a contender in the Western Conference. He also fits like an absolute glove on a Pistons team in need of scoring punch since the trade of Jerami Grant, particularly the outside shooting he specializes in.

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has done many deals that tilted in favor of the Pistons, but there were specific reasons (cap space, looking to win now, placate Damian Lillard) the other teams agreed to it.

Bojan on board, which is good news for Pistons. light. Related Story

To simply fleece Utah president Danny Ainge, who usually is the fleecer, not the fleecee, did not seem to add up.

But now, 2 + 2 = 4.

In a recent column on veteran NBA writer Marc Stein’s Substack site (PAID SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED), he explains that Bogdanovic is seeking a contract extension, according to Lakers Nation:

"New Pistons sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanović, 33, is said to be seeking a new multiyear contract, which league sources say dissuaded some interested teams from pushing harder to try to acquire him from the Jazz as Bogdanović plays out this season on an expiring $19.3 million deal. It remains to be seen whether the Pistons intend to keep Bogdanović for the entire season — or perhaps move him before the trade deadline in February in the belief that a contender will feel more urgency to make a stronger offer than those Utah received in recent weeks. Word is that the Pistons want to see first if they have enough on the roster to mount an unexpected run at a play-in slot … even in a deeper-than-usual Eastern Conference that doesn’t exactly encourage such optimism."

Bogdanovic is still a good player, he scored 18.1 points on 39-percent three-point shooting last season. But he does turn 34 in April, which would make most teams hesitant about signing him to a long term deal.

It also explains why Bogdanovic was not disappointed about, as rumored, heading to the Lakers or Phoenix Suns, when questioned at Pistons training camp. He probably already knew he wasn’t going to either place.

Related Story. Is Bojan Bogdanovic a definite starter for Pistons?. light

Obviously, the Utah Jazz are just starting their rebuild, so they had no interest in offering Bogdanovic a new deal, nor did they want to bring an unhappy player to training camp, which was just mere days away.

At his age, with a $19.3 million salary this season, and Bogdanovic wanting an extension, Ainge’s options were limited. Detroit’s offer, a backup center and their fourth-string point guard, was, presumably, the best he could find. Kelly Olynyk played for Ainge in Boston, so he values him higher than most NBA execs.

By the way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Bogdanovic looking for a contract extension. He is probably looking as this being his final big contract, he is playing well, and you never know what will happen in the coming season. Who wants to be a 34-year-old on the free agent market (ask 33-year-old Blake Griffin)?

Would Detroit Pistons give Bojan Bogdanovic a contract extension? Answer might surprise you

When finding out this information, a Pistons fans first reaction might be: ‘Well, we wouldn’t give a soon-to-be 34-year-old a contract extension either’.

Detroit is the middle of a major youth movement, with 10 players aged 24-years-old or younger. Why would they want someone old enough to have been a teammate of Kevin Garnett? And the Pistons were 23-59 last season, so not like Bogdanovic is the final piece in a championship lineup.

But there are three things one must keep in mind:

  1. General manager Troy Weaver has always stated he wants veterans on the team. If Detroit is turning into a good team, than it makes sense for him to want good, veteran players.
  2. The Pistons have a huge amount of salary cap space beginning next season. Like a Grand Canyon sized amount of free space. Signing a reasonable deal with Bogdanovic, say three-years, $40 million with the third year a partial team option, does not ruin Detroit’s future cap space.
  3. In February, near the trade deadline, contending teams may be more desperate for talent, and Bogdanovic’s salary will be less by then. Weaver might be able to flip Bogdanovic for a draft pick, something Ainge could not do now.

Undoubtedly, Weaver told Bogdanovic’s agent to let’s see how the season plays out, and then we can talk. If he looks good, and seems to fit in well with Cade Cunningham, maybe he does re-sign with Detroit if not looking for outrageous money.

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Since arriving in Detroit, Bogdanovic has been nothing but the good teammate, even flying from Croatia to be at the Pistons team dinner in less than 48 hours. While it seems an odd pairing, maybe it will all work out here for him.