With the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline inching closer, the Detroit Pistons possess arguably the league’s hottest trade target.
Veteran Bojan Bogdanović has been the topic of many phone conversations in recent weeks for Pistons general manager Troy Weaver and Co., and understandably so. The 33-year-old is averaging a career-high 21.6 points while maintaining one of the most efficient shooting seasons (career-high 57.7 effective field goal percentage, per NBA.com) in his nine-year NBA career. Detroit currently has the league’s second-worst record, so it’s easy to see why teams are looking to the Pistons as sellers at the deadline. While that direction is usually the route many of the league’s cellar dwellers take this time of the year, it is my understanding that Detroit, at this point in time, isn’t eager to move away from Bogdanović.
Per league sources, as of late January, the Pistons, who have aspirations of turning a corner next season, would need significant value in return to consider moving Bogdanović within the next two weeks, with the minimum starting point being an unprotected first-round pick . Detroit values Bogdanović highly and doesn’t want to move him unless an overwhelming offer makes too much sense.
Rival teams will continue to call, and the Pistons will continue to listen, but all indications so far are that teams aren’t yet willing to go above and beyond to pry Bogdanović away from the Motor City.
According to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors are a handful of the teams that have registered interest in Bogdanović in recent weeks. So, what might some of the trade proposals look like? I had my co-workers and fellow beat writers who cover these teams send me trade proposals for Bogdanović. Afterwards, I put on my general manager hat to analyze each offer.
Those trade offers can be read below.
Cavaliers receive: Bogdanović
Pistons receive: Caris LeVert
Kelsey Russo, Cavaliers beat writer: This is a pretty clean trade for both sides, swapping a player for another player. Caris LeVert is averaging 12.8 points per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from 3. Due to the presence of Donovan Mitchell, LeVert’s role has been a bit different this season, but he has the ability to be a scoring option and a starter. He would give the Pistons a guy who can score and create for himself. The salaries of LeVert and Bogdanović are similar, which allows this trade to be successful and still keep the Cavs under the luxury-tax line. The Cavs would then get another veteran who can bring floor spacing and perimeter shooting, as he is shooting 41.2 percent from 3.
Analysis: I’m of the belief that the Pistons will target LeVert, who will be a free agent this coming summer. I don’t think, though, that they acquire him before the deadline at the expense of Bogdanović. I’d do the trade if Cleveland could toss in its 2024 first-round pick, but the Cavaliers can’t move that selection until draft night, and LeVert will be off their books by then. LeVert is younger than Bogdanović by a few years, as well as a bucket-getter in his own right, but he does not currently hold the external value that Bogdanović does. If the Pistons were desperate to move Bogdanović or overeager to get off his money (Detroit signed him to an extension at the beginning of the season), I could see some deal like this. Yet, that does not appear to be the case as of now. Detroit could just wait until the summer and try to get LeVert in the open market.
This gets a “no, thank you” from me.
Mavericks receive: Bogdanović
Pistons receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., 2025 and 2027 second-round pick
Tim Cato, Mavericks beat writer: This offer is the most, I believe, the Mavericks would be willing to offer, and I don’t think Detroit stays on the phone long after hearing it. Dallas has a real reluctance to part with first-round picks right now — they want to have them all available after this year’s pick conveys to New York — and I don’t believe they feel Bogdanović is enough of an improvement for the Mavericks to consider attaching one. He’d help them, no doubt, but the 33-year-old isn’t the decisive move they seek for a deal where first rounders are included. If Detroit can’t find a suitor offering a first-round pick in return, Dallas would be happy to send them a couple seconds along with Hardaway, whose contract is declining somewhat more favorably with the same number of years as Bogdanović’s. But, again, this doesn’t feel like a realistic option for either side.
Analysis: Mr. Cato is correct. I’d happily take his call, but I’d be trying to find a way to quickly get off the phone after hearing it. I like Hardaway Jr., don’t get me wrong, but I’d much rather have Bogdanović — or at least have him going into the offseason when I can again entertain other proposals. This just isn’t enough of a return for me. Hardaway, 30, isn’t a spring chicken himself, and, if I were the Pistons, I’d rather keep Bogdanović and try for LeVert this summer, rather than trade Bogdanović to get Hardaway and then have no need for LeVert.
Appreciate the call, sir, but I’m going to see who is on the other line…
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers receive: Bogdanović
Pistons receive: Patrick Beverley, Lonnie Walker IV and a lottery-protected 2027 first-round pick
Jovan Buha, Lakers beat writer: The Lakers have long admired Bogdanović’s game and tried to trade for him last offseason before Detroit did. Bogdanović would immediately become the Lakers’ best shooter and third-best player, boosting an offense in desperate need of an elite floor spacer. He’s an ideal fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as he moves well without the ball, has good size for his position and is a solid defender within the confines of a strong team scheme. As for the Pistons, they clear long-term salary off their cap sheet and add one of the most valuable draft picks on the trade market. The Lakers would prefer to make this a lottery-protected pick, but I think they’d consider including an unprotected first for Bogdanović when up against the deadline clock.
Analysis: Finally, someone offers up a first-round pick! The issue, though, as the general manager of a rebuilding team, do I really want to trade for a pick four years from now that I might not be able to make? Despite how this season has gone for the Pistons, Weaver has come in and added young talent and has pleased his bosses, who gave him a two-year extension this past summer. I’m of the belief that Weaver and his crew will turn things around in Detroit, but, man, four years is a long time from now. A lot of things can happen. With that said, though, having an extra first-round pick to use to pull off a bigger trade sooner rather than later is never a bad thing.
Let me think about how I can replace Bogdanović’s scoring punch, how I want to use that first-round pick and listen to other offers. I’ll get back to you on Feb. 9.
New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans receive: Bogdanović and Rodney McGruder
Pistons receive: Devonte’ Graham, Kira Lewis Jr. and Jackson Hayes
Will Guillory, Pelicans beat writer: The Pistons would probably prefer to get a first-round pick in any potential Bogdanović deal, but I’m not sure the Pels are in a rush to give up one of their picks for a guy who might not be able to share the floor with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram consistently. Instead, the Pels gave Detroit a proven knockdown shooter on a reasonable contract (Graham) and two former lottery picks who could be developed if given more playing time (Lewis and Hayes). Maybe there’s some middle ground to be found with a few second-round picks going in Detroit’s direction. Considering the Pels’ financial situation in the future, with three players making $30+ million next season, it just doesn’t make sense to give up young, cost-controlled assets unless it’s a guarantee the piece they’re getting back could fit next to Williamson and Ingram. Offensively, those three would look amazing. It’s the other end of the floor that would concern me.
Analysis: If this were a year ago, I’d consider something like this. Taking a flyer on Lewis and Hayes makes much more sense in 2022 than it does in 2023 for the Pistons. Between Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes, Detroit already has too many young ballhandlers to prioritize. I’m not sure where Lewis fits in. Hayes is raw and a freak of an athlete, but the Pistons already have Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III, as well as the best odds to land Victor Wembanyama.
If Detroit were continuing to be hard sellers at the deadline, a deal like this would make more sense. But like I said before, with aspirations of turning a corner next season, I’d rather just have Bogdanović than the names mentioned above. You can only have so many young players when trying to be good.
Raptors receive: Bogdanović
Pistons receive: Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young, lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick (remains lottery protected in 2024, turns into 2025 and 2026 second-round picks if not conveyed), 2023 second-round pick
Eric Koreen, Raptors beat writer: The Raptors should be focused on the sellers’ end of the market at the trade deadline, but Bogdanović makes sense with a competitive team built around Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes. He could also be a part of replacing Gary Trent Jr., who will likely hit free agency this offseason and sign a richer deal. Still the Raptors have to limit the downside risk, both because of the position they’re in now and to prioritize keeping their options open down the line. Young can be bought out for $1 million this offseason, which would give the Pistons even more cap space.
Analysis: On the surface, I like the idea of adding more size and length, but I’m not a big fan of either Boucher or Young as it pertains to moving on from Bogdanović. Young’s only appeal is if Detroit wants to have more money in the open market. The 34-year-old vet has a partially-guaranteed deal for next season. I don’t think the Pistons would retain him. So, that leaves you with Boucher, added cap space and, likely, a bunch of second-round picks. That just doesn’t do it for me. I’d rather take Bogdanović into the summer, and if nothing better pops up then, happily bring him back next year with a healthy Cunningham and another, likely, top-five pick.
Thanks, but no thanks.
(Top photo credit of Bojan Bogdanović: Tom Horak / USA TODAY Sports)