On the first day of fall, another domino fell for the Utah Jazz.
The team has agreed to trade Bojan Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for veteran big man Kelly Olynyk and reserve guard Saben Lee. Moving Bogdanovic was an expected move, but the return for him and the team the Jazz made a deal with came as quite a surprise.
You’ve probably heard the rumors about deals with the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns and the Jazz targeting a first-round pick. So why did the Jazz make a deal with the Pistons and not get any draft capital in return for their best remaining veteran player?
On first glance, not getting a draft asset in a deal for Bogdanovic is definitely a blow. The Jazz have been stockpiling picks with the trades of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and even got a future first for Royce O’Neale, so the assumption was that Bogdanovic would absolutely be worth at least one future pick.
That’s all true, but ultimately, the contending teams that were interested in Bogdanovic’s services were unwilling to part with high draft compensation while giving the Jazz flexibility moving forward.
In trying to look at it from the perspective of the other teams involved, you have to consider that Bogdanovic will be 34 this season and is on an expiring deal. So, if you are a team trying to win, if you trade for him and he isn’t as good now as he was then you’ve given up some of your future for nothing.
If he is as good as he was for the Jazz, you’re trading away part of the future for a player that is going to be an unrestricted free agent. Is getting him on the roster as a rental enough of a win-now move to get rid of a future first-rounder that could end up being a high pick?
That’s a tough position to be in and apparently the answer was no.
From the Jazz’s perspective, Bogdanovic was too good to keep on the roster. He’s not a player that would willingly agree to load-managing his way through the season just so the Jazz could lose some games, and if he’s on the court the Jazz would have a rough time of losing 60 or more games en route to a lottery selection. The Jazz needed to get a Bogdanovic deal done and they needed it done now.
The Jazz also didn’t have much financial wiggle room in order to complete future deals. This deal, while it doesn’t bring back a ton of value, saves the Jazz about $5.6 million this season. Though Olynyk is under contract through next season, he only has $3 million of his $12.1 million salary guaranteed for 2023-24. Lee, has a team option for the 2023-24 season.
While there were other offers the Jazz considered from other teams, they came with their own complications. The Jazz didn’t want to take on longer-term salaries as they look to clear the books in the coming years and they didn’t want to part ways with some of the players that they see as part of their future. Those constraints limited the options.
If you’re looking at this move through the lens of what the Jazz had done this summer, it’s probably hard to accept the fact that O’Neale netted a first-round pick but the Jazz gave up Bogdanovic for financial savings.
But, a rebuild often requires a bird’s-eye view. The Jazz are not done and there are more moves to come. It was honestly a stroke of luck that the Jazz got a future first for O’Neale, and the flexibility gained by moving away from Bogdanovic, could allow them to massage the roster in ways they couldn’t before.
Also, it’s hard to not look across the board at Detroit and recognize that the Pistons are in competition for a top pick in 2023. There’s no arguing that Bogdanovic makes them better, and if the Jazz can get better lottery odds than another team, it’s worth considering that it was part of the thought process.