The Pistons didn’t do what the league expected and flip Bojan Bogdanovic when they acquired him in a preseason trade. In fact, it was the opposite — the Pistons and Bogdanovic agreed to a two-year, $39.1 million contract extension.
That has not ended the hope from some teams that the 3-11 Pistons will decide to go all in for Victor Wembanyama and in doing so trade Bogdanovic closer to the February trade deadline (he can still be traded after Dec. 15 despite the extension). Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer talked about it on his “Please Don’t Aggregate This” podcast (hat tip Silver Screen and Roll):
“He’s a player that I think a lot of winning teams, a team looking to get to the second round that’s never gotten there or a team that wants to push their way to really be a title threat (would want)… Phoenix was at the top of everyone’s list in terms of suitors that have capital to pay in addition to talent and the salaries that made sense… The Lakers were obviously involved. I got a list of other teams that I think have called and contacted, but nothing too crazy at this point in terms of actual conversations that are still ongoing. I do know Detroit is getting calls on him.”
Bogdanovic has averaged 20.3 points a game and is shooting 43% on 3-pointers in Detroit. He’s a two-way wing player who could help a lot of teams.
If Jae Crowder is still on the Suns, it’s relatively easy to construct a trade that works under the salary cap, as long as the Suns throw in a young player (Cameron Payne) and draft picks that the Pistons want. As Fischer notes, the Suns’ salary flexibility is why they come up in a lot of trade scenarios.
Salary flexibility is not a phrase one would use about Los Angeles. The challenge for the Lakers in a Bogdanovic trade is the one they run into in a lot of trade scenarios — their roster is so top-heavy it’s hard to pull off a deal for a guy making $19.6 million such as Bogdanovic. Los Angeles is not giving up Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV in a Bogdanovic trade, even though that’s a salary match. The Pistons don’t want Russell Westbrook and his $47 million salary (even if they are tanking), it would be too many salaries out the door (and the Lakers shouldn’t trade their first-round picks for a rotation wing player).
Detroit is not a team that was expected to be at the forefront of Wembanyama tanking chase this season, with Cade Cunningham, Bogdanovic, and young talent such as Jaden Ivey and Saddiq Bey, the Pistons were more expected to fight for a play-in spot. But after a 3-11 start to the season, Detroit may want to consider a pivot — there’s a lot of season left, but with generational talents at the top of the draft board, it has to be on the table.
Either way, expect the Lakers, Suns and other teams to keep calling Detroit as the trade deadline nears. They all still think the Pistons want to flip Bogdanovic.