He’s a Jazz man for now but Bojan Bogdanovic clearly needs to move on from Utah. Emmet Ryan on how his body language spoke loudly while his mouth said little at EuroBasket
This is not a matter of effort. It was clear Bojan Bogdanovic put in work for Croatia at EuroBasket but the distractions of Utah’s sharp and near total rebuild clearly had an impact on his mood and performance at the competition.
Throughout his six games, in Milan and Berlin, the veteran looked like a man who wanted to be doing anything but playing basketball and all the ancillary stuff that involves. The national team captain for Croatia, he did his duty at press conferences and mandatory interviews but the need to lead was the last thing Bogdanovic wanted and it was clear for all to see.
From the media tribunes courtside through the mixed zones, Bogdanovic’s visible demeanour never changed irrespective of how his team was doing on the floor. At 33 and having made good money, he’s at a stage in his life as a basketball player where he doesn’t want to be part of a project that is starting everything over again.
Of all the players impacted by the flurry of trade activity and free agency moves that coincided with the start of this competition, and into the latter stages with Dennis Schroeder, none looked to be impacted more negatively than the Croat. His teammates Dario Saric (Phoenix Suns) and Ivica Zubac (LA Clippers) had different challenges but neither had that flavour of stress.
Saric looked like a man trying to get back into top tier condition after a long layoff, physically he was fine but you could see he was still working to convince himself. Zubac was quiet but effective when given the opportunity, as Croatia’s usage of him was confusing at times.
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Bojan? He was numerically fine scoring 19.2 points per game on 48/39/87 but assist to turnover ratio 1.7/2.7 pointed to his focus issues. This wasn’t the guy out there getting that bit extra from his team mates, he didn’t look like a veteran leader as much as a tired guy who was doing the work he had to.
For the Jazz, that’s not ideal. He’s at a stage where he wants to be on a team that can compete, the Jazz team he joined essentially not the one he clearly needs to leave. All the take is that he will be moved and he’s entering the final season of his contract where he has proven an effective contributor. The contract is very dealable given his relatively low salary and is surely an asset that most teams looking for a bench upgrade will want but the question is how long Utah will wait to ensure they get what they want in terms of a return.
Danny Ainge has done really well at bringing in assets in return for the departures of the two big stars of the old Jazz team, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, but he might be well served accepting pennies on the dollar for Bogdanovic.
Bojan is a pro, he’s not going to actively cause issues in the locker room but he’s also unlikely to be that much of a help either while he waits for what seems like an inevitable move. There’s obviously a temptation for Ainge to wait until a team likely overpays at the trade deadline but that’s a long way away and these first few months of the NBA system must surely be about ensuring the pieces he plans to keep become the best versions of themselves to help with the new talent coming in.
Look at Lauri Markkanen (25) and Simone Fontecchio (26) who both will hopefully be developed into the type of players that can really work with the young guys on the way through the draft. You want them to be fully bought in and the longer Bogdanovic stays and is wondering about where he’s actually going to play basketball, the more it takes away from that development.
There’s also the small matter of what happens if Bogdanovic is good, like properly good, in this season. Tanking is an ugly process at the best of times but the bottom line is that for all the lack of leadership Bogdanovic is motivated to provide, he probably adds a couple of Ws and Utah probably doesn’t want that.
A quick and painless divoice is the best call here for all parties. Give Bogdanovic a place where he will feel himself again and let the new blood have a wholly clean slate.