Utah Jazz veteran power forward Bojan Bogdanovic will not be landing in Los Angeles after all.
After weeks of speculation about a potential follow-up to the Lakers' exchange with the Jazz that brought back veteran 3-and-D point guard Patrick Beverley, it appears that the two sides could not come to terms on a trade that would would center around Bogdanovic.
Instead, the 6'7" veteran big man is en route to the rebuilding Detroit Pistons, in exchange for Gonzaga alum Kelly Olynyk and young point guard Saben Lee, per Shams Charania and James L. Edwards of The Athletic.
The deal is fascinating for both sides. Rumor had it that the Jazz and Lakers were hung up on L.A.'s outgoing draft equity in a deal, so for Utah to get zero draft picks back in this trade is somewhat confounding. The team is now taking a shot on 23-year-old Lee, and carving out some additional cap space beneath the luxury tax. Detroit, which appeared to be prioritizing youngsters like 2021 No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham and this year's lottery-acquired tandem of wing Jaden Ivey (the fifth pick) and center Jalen Duren (the 13th selection).
This move effectively closes the window a huge key asset for the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire in a hoped-for Russell Westbrook trade. Bojan Bogdanovic was the best remaining fit for Los Angeles on the Jazz's roster. That said, the team ostensibly could still piece together a transaction that would send Westbrook to the Jazz, perhaps now centered around the contracts of power forward Lauri Markkanen (a serviceable substitute for Bogdanovic as a floor-spacing seven-footer), swingman Malik Beasley, and 2021 Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson (a former Lakers draft pick).
Markkanen is not as good as Bogdanovic, and is a poor defender, but started (at small forward!) all of his 61 games with a 44-38 Cleveland Cavaliers team last season! Markkanen, 25, is a career 36.4% three-point shooter on a high-volume 6.2 attempts per contest
The big issue with that deal is that Markkanen's salary would be on L.A.'s books for two seasons beyond 2022-23, and L.A. apparently is hoping to maximize its space this summer to sign bigger fish. But in terms of L.A.'s key needs (a more balanced roster at the wing and forward spots, and just to get off Westbrook's deal and minutes), this would be an acceptable substitute.
All told, the assets involved in the Lakers' hypothetical offer for Bogdanovic -- let's say either the team's 2027 or 2029 first-round pick with light or no protections, in addition to a future pick swap for the other year -- certainly seem better than Saben Lee as a prospect. It's quite possible that one or both L.A. picks wind up in the lottery, given the age of LeBron James and the injury history of Anthony Davis. For Utah team president Danny Ainge to walk away from a package of, say, Bogdanovic and a few other vets (beyond Beasley and Clarkson, the team also has point guard Mike Conley and power forwards Rudy Gobert and Jarred Vanderbilt) in exchange for Westbrook's expiring deal and some very valuable draft equity and instead opt for an inferior deal feels almost spiteful.