Let’s get this out of the way: The Los Angeles Lakers did not only start targeting Bojan Bogdanovic because he scored a career-high for a quarter 25 of his 38 total points in the third frame of the team’s 124-117 win over the Pistons on Sunday night. The team tried to get Bogdanovic as part of an ultimately rejected four-team trade that would have sent Donovan Mitchell to the Charlotte Hornets over the summer, and they have already discussed a deal for him with Detroit in the wake of Bogdanovic’s extension earlier this season.
Still, none of that changes how hilarious it is that the Lakers, after one hell of an audition game from Bogdanovic last night, are being linked to him in NBA trade rumors published by multiple insiders on Monday morning.
The first came from Shams Charania of The Athletic, who gave some details on what Los Angeles’ offer for Bogdanovic is:
The Lakers are prioritizing shooting in their conversations with teams, and have discussed packages including salaries and a protected first-round pick for Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic, league sources, who were granted anonymity so that they could speak freely, tell The Athletic.
Shortly afterward, Hall of Fame NBA insider Marc Stein published his own story on the Lakers’ pursuit of Bogdanovic over at his Substack — “centered around one future first-round pick with unspecified draft protections attached,” he confirms — but wrote that the Pistons so far are asking for more:
The Pistons have to date declined those overtures, sources add, insisting on a fully unprotected future first from the Lakers to seriously entertain a Bogdanović swap. Detroit, in fact, continues to tell interested teams (and there are several) that it wants to keep Bogdanović, who is averaging 21.0 points and shooting 50.8% from the field (43.7% on 3-pointers) as a Piston.
The Lakers and Bojan Bogdanović: https://t.co/5UKtI38NsT— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 12, 2022
Charania’s own story also doesn’t make it sound like the Pistons are in a rush to deal Bogdanovic, in part because they have other suitors, and in part because they value his veteran presence:
While Bogdanovic is a target for the Lakers — they are among roughly a dozen teams to inquire about him, offering first- or second-rounders — Detroit is showing no urgency about moving him. In fact, the Pistons have expressed to rival teams a significant reluctance about moving Bogdanovic, sources said.
As The Athletic’s James Edwards III wrote, Bogdanovic has become a leader for this young Pistons group, a productive catalyst on and off the floor, showing exactly why general manager Troy Weaver does not want to move him.
Stein writes that it’s a “fair question” whether that position is “a negotiating ploy to generate stronger offers or a firm stance,” and it’s hard to argue there. From a logical perspective, it seems likely that the Pistons will eventually fully embrace the tank and get another asset for a player who is by far their most valuable veteran on the trade market.
And for the Lakers, Bogdanovic would undoubtedly fill a need, a capable movement shooter who can thrive off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, adding an element to their offense that the team just doesn’t possess at all right now. Trading for him at the price of one protected first could be a real boon for this roster, especially if it sent out Patrick Beverley — the man who fouled Bogdanovic on two threes in the third quarter alone, and whose trash-talking during the first set of free throws seemed to inspire him to hit five more triples in the quarter — and the contract of Kendrick Nunn, which are in all likelihood the salaries not being named here.
Still, even if it would be a good move, and even if these stories were (probably) in the works before Bogdanovic torched the Lakers’ alleged defensive stopper for one of the best quarters of his career, it is hard not to chuckle at the Lakers, once again, being linked to a player who just lit them up. My co-host Anthony Irwin half-jokingly wondered if the Lakers watch non-Lakers games on our podcast last week, and my friend Tim “Cranjis McBasketball” of the Lakers Exceptionalism podcast lent some credence to that theory by basically predicting this news cycle on Sunday night:
I was shocked at that info, so I got confirmation to be sure.— Cranjis McBasketball (@Tim_NBA) December 12, 2022
If it seems like LA goes after players disproportionally who played well vs LA or have existing ties with the org/Rob/Klutch, well…
In 3 games vs LA last year Walker had:— Cranjis McBasketball (@Tim_NBA) December 12, 2022
- 1st ranked 3PT% vs any opponent
- 2nd best ASG vs any opponent
- 5th best PPG vs any opponent
LA saw him at his ~best when he played them last season. https://t.co/Dn5haRtyJi
So, long story short, even if last night wasn’t necessarily the first time the Lakers realized Bogdanovic was good, considering their front office structure, a good game certainly couldn’t have hurt the chances the Lakers acquire him. In fact, it may have even helped his odds to end up in Los Angeles by a significant margin. And even if that ultimately ends up being a good thing, it is also very funny, and very Lakers.