Clouds of trade smoke will billow out and eventually blanket the basketball world between now and the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline.
Discerning hoopheads understand two things about this smoke: it’s not always to be trusted, but it’s also inadvisable to dismiss it.
Most trade talks—or trade rumors—stem from somewhere, but the foundation could be fickle. Or it could be the early sign of an oncoming blockbuster. Of course, most of it lands somewhere in between, making the trade landscape tricky to navigate.
Then again, that’s why you landed here, isn’t it? You might find yourself buried in these same smoke clouds and in need of someone to separate fact from fiction. Luckily, that happens to be our precise area of expertise, as we’re giving the always reliable sniff test to the latest rumors.
Pistons Seeking Top-Tier Assets for Bojan Bogdanovic
The Detroit Pistons are sitting on a gold mine.
He goes by the name of Bojan Bogdanovic.
The 33-year-old is a 6’7″ skilled scorer with a feather-soft shooting touch and a career-high points-per-game average of 21. When he’s not net-shredding from distance (career 39.4 percent) or punishing smaller defenders near the post, he fills in the cracks as a willing passer and capable team defender.
If you think that describes the ideal trade target for virtually every team in the modern Association, well, you aren’t far off. The number of interested suitors in Bogdanovic has reportedly reached double digits, per Marc Stein. The Pistons are also reportedly telling teams they aren’t eager to move Bogdanovic, which feels about as believable as a hastily written zombie apocalypse script.
Is it helpful to have him in the Motor City? No question, particularly since this offense needs a focal point with Cade Cunningham shelved by left leg surgery. Could it make sense to keep him around, then? Not at all. Not when a Bogdanovic deal could yield a windfall of assets.
The Pistons reportedly covet “at least one first-rounder and either a young player with upside or additional draft capital” in a Bogdanovic trade, per Yahoo’s Jake Fischer. In this trade market, which appears heavy on buyers but incredibly light on sellers, that seems like a reasonable ask.
Bogdanovic may not be a star, but he’s a stone’s throw from pairing those 21 points per game with the famed 50/40/90 shooting slash (he’s at 48.4/41.6/89.4). That’s a wildly effective and efficient offensive weapon—one slotted in the NBA’s 93rd percentile.
Verdict: Easy buy. If the Pistons deal Bogdanovic—and they absolutely should—they can expect to fetch a first-round pick and more.
Jazz, Jordan Clarkson Talking Contract Extension
After unloading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert—plus Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale—in the offseason, the Utah Jazz were supposed to bottom out in 2022-23.
Jordan Clarkson is a big reason why they haven’t.
He ranks second on the team in scoring (20.4 points per game) and distributing (4.5 assists). He’s also having one of his best shooting seasons to date, splashing 2.7 triples a night at a 35.6 percent clip.
In fact, he’s been so productive—90th percentile by estimated offensive plus-minus—that he and the Jazz “have been engaged in contract extension talks,” per Tony Jones of The Athletic, who added that “there is mutual interest in moving forward.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Utah’s willingness to keep Clarkson. While he has so far rebuffed extension offers, per Stein, the veteran scribe doesn’t expect that to motivate the Jazz to trade Clarkson. The Missouri product holds a $14.3 million player option for next season, and even if he hits the open market, the Jazz have his Bird rights, giving them some flexibility to bring him back.
His off-the-dribble verve adds a different dimension to this offense, and he has already created good chemistry with All-Star candidate Lauri Markkanen. Lineups featuring the pair have shredded opponents to the tune of 119.7 points per possession, which comfortably bests the Boston Celtics’ league-leading mark of 117.2.
And yet, unless you buy that the Jazz are contenders now—they are 8-17 since their 12-6 start, so good luck with that—or will reach that tier in the very near future, then it’s hard to see the logic in keeping Clarkson. He’ll be 31 in June and quite possibly in need of a massive pay raise. Utah, which needs to add and develop more blue-chip talent for this rebuild to really work, isn’t far enough along to justify shelling out major coin for such a non-star.
Verdict: Split decision. We’ll buy Utah’s interest in keeping Clarkson since that narrative isn’t new, but we’ll sell that the Jazz actually do it.