The fire sale continues: The Utah Jazz will trade forward Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons for big man Kelly Olynyk and guard Saben Lee, according to The Athletic. There are no draft picks changing hands in the deal.
If this is the Pistons’ last major move of the offseason, then they have reshaped the rotation significantly. It’s a talent grab, first and foremost, but it also balances the roster. (Detroit still, however, needs to make a couple of cuts before the start of the season; in related news, Kemba Walker is still technically on the team.)
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For the Jazz, this is much less exciting. Bogdanovic is the type of player that a contender might see as a missing piece. His $19.3 million salary was likely an obstacle in trade talks, but it’s surprising that they accepted a trade that doesn’t include any draft compensation whatsoever. (On the other hand, Utah is hardly short on draft picks, after trading Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale earlier this offseason.)
Let’s grade the trade.
Pistons trade grade: A+
The 33-year-old Bogdanovic solidifies the starting lineup for a rebuilding team that is trying to take a step forward. If I were Cade Cunningham, I’d be elated. Bogdanovic doesn’t need the ball to be effective, but he gives the Pistons another source of offense when they need it. He’ll give Cunningham more space to operate when they’re on the court together and help the team remain functional when Cunningham is on the bench.
The veteran could serve as a model of sorts for Saddiq Bey, and the two forwards will complement each other. It’s unclear if Jaden Ivey will start right away, but a Cunningham-Ivey-Bey-Bogdanovic foursome would give Dwane Casey’s coaching staff an interesting look: dynamic on offense, switchable on defense.
Bogdanovic averaged 18.1 points in 30.1 minutes on 59.9 percent true shooting last season. He was efficient from everywhere on the court and made 40.7 percent of his wide-open 3s, per NBA.com. He’s not a lockdown defender, especially against quicker perimeter players, but he’s strong, smart and, in Utah, he often found himself defending stars.
Losing Olynyk means that there is no longer a stretch 5 on the roster, but it eases the logjam in the frontcourt. If Detroit doesn’t make any more moves, then Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel, Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III will battle for minutes. Simply having traded two players for one counts as a win, too, given the roster crunch.
If the Pistons aren’t interested in another high lottery pick, this is a clear-cut steal. All the players involved are on expiring contracts; should Detroit get off to a poor start and decide to bottom out, it can trade Bogdanovic before the trade deadline.
Jazz trade grade: D+
In Utah, the 31-year-old Olynyk will reunite with former Celtics president Danny Ainge. He’ll also provide some structure for a team that, as currently constructed, has a slew of scorers and a dearth of distributors. Olynyk is not the same kind of threat as Bogdanovic, but he can pass out of the high post and make opposing bigs step out on the perimeter. If he stays healthy and is productive this season, the front office might be able to flip him to a contender.
It’s unclear if Lee, 23, is in Utah’s plans or was included in the trade as a salary filler. In his two seasons, he has shown an ability to get into the paint, but has only made 26.5 percent of his 3-point attempts at low volume. The Jazz are overloaded with guards, but that could change in the coming weeks.
So why on earth would Utah do this? Ace HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan noted, the trade cuts $5 million off its luxury tax bill, giving the front office more flexibility as it considers its next move, and it creates a $6.75 million trade exception. Also, as the Salt Lake TribuneAndry Larsen’s noted, the Jazz had a totally different roster problem than Detroit did: hardly any bigs, numerous players who can play the 3 and 4 spots. If Olynyk is not the opening-night starter, I’d be surprised.
Utah could have gotten a late first in a Bogdanovic deal, per the Salt Lake Tribune, but doing so would have required the team to take on salary. The Jazz chose a bit of extra flexibility over the chance of getting something better around the deadline. It’s not a damaging move, but it’s the first one they’ve made this offseason that doesn’t seem like good value.