A few weeks after sending Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Utah Jazz traded Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. The New York Knicks had reportedly expressed interest in the 33-year-old, but with one year left on his contract, Bogdanovic will be spending at least the 2022-23 season in Detroit.
Bogdanovic is obviously not Mitchell, but he’s yet another weapon for an Eastern Conference team. Last season, the Pistons finished in 14th place in the East, three spots below the Knicks, with a 23-59 record. Detroit isn’t a title contender, and neither is New York, but the Bogdanovic signing could perhaps be another obstacle for the Knicks to jump over to make it to the play-in tournament.
Here’s the most interesting part of the trade — the Pistons didn’t have to give up a first-round pick to Danny Ainge. Instead, Detroit sent Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee (two bench players) to Utah. That’s a package that New York could’ve topped, but with an expiring contract and the Knicks not being in a position to make a deep playoff run, there wasn’t a dire need for New York to pursue the forward.
Will the Pistons finish above the Knicks in the East with Bojan Bogdanovic?
The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly interested in the veteran, and if he would’ve landed in LA alongside LeBron James, that fit would’ve made more sense. Instead, he’s now on a young team that isn’t guaranteed a play-in spot.
Knowing how Danny Ainge is, he probably asked the Lakers for both of their first-round picks in exchange for Bogdanovic, but then turned around and told the Pistons that they didn’t need to send a first-round pick to the Jazz as part of the deal. That’s only partly a joke, but how Ainge does business is no secret.
It would’ve been better for New York if Bogdanovic would’ve ended up in Los Angeles. It’s not unreasonable to think that the Knicks will finish above the Pistons in the East this season, but the addition of Bogdanovic complicates the matter. Alongside 2021 No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft Cade Cunningham and 2022 No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey, the vet should slide into Detroit’s starting lineup as a solid three-point shooter.
In 2021-22, Bogdanovic averaged 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 69 games for Utah while shooting 45.5% from the field and 38.7% from deep. He may have 10 years on the other four players in the Pistons’ starting lineup, which isn’t an exaggeration, but he’ll certainly make Detroit better.
He may not be a big name in the NBA, but trading for him was a smart move by the Pistons, especially considering that they didn’t have to give up much at all.
New York’s home-opener on Oct. 21 against Detroit just got a bit more interesting. Hopefully, the Knicks won’t be edged out of the play-in tournament by the Pistons, but then again, hopefully, the Knicks won’t have to worry about the play-in tournament.
Realistically, though, Detroit is undoubtedly a threat to New York. The Eastern Conference got a bit more challenging on Thursday, but with the season a few weeks away, we’re soon going to see what the Knicks are all about.