Utah Jazz: Bojan Bogdanovic talks may be picking up steam

The Utah Jazz are reportedly focusing on Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency, and discussions between the two appear to be picking up steam in a big way.

Free agency is nearly upon us as only a few hours remain until the moratorium period begins and negotiations can begin with players. While the 4:00 PM MT mark is when things can become official, we already know quite a lot about what’s going to happen on Sunday. Kemba Walker is set to join the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving is headed to the Brooklyn Nets and Nikola Vucevic will be staying with the Orlando Magic.

However, when it comes to the Utah Jazz, there’s a lot more still up in the air. When the Jazz traded for Mike Conley, many believed that would be their one and only splash move of the summer with their free agency spent on adding inexpensive role players to round out the roster.

But based on recent news that has surfaced, the Jazz may be looking to make one last splash. As my J-Notes counterpart Ryan Aston reported on yesterday, the Jazz lost out on a potential target in Nikola Mirotic, who is leaving the NBA to play in Spain, whereas the team is set to meet with restricted free agent Bobby Portis to discuss a potential fit. But shortly after that news emerged, an even more intriguing target was brought to light – the Jazz are making a hard push for Indiana Pacers unrestricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic.

The news was first reported by The Athletic’s Tony Jones, who had the following to say as you can see in the tweet below–

What’s most interesting here is that Tony refers to the Jazz as having ‘significant interest’ which seems to indicate that there is some real teeth here. However, based on this information, it appeared that the Pacers were still very much the favorite to retain their sharpshooter extraordinaire.

But just under five hours later, things seemed to turn up a notch as Tony added the following–

Notice how the report shifted from ‘significant interest’ to the Jazz being ‘a significant threat’. The fact that they’re aiming to put a competitive offer on the table right away as the gates of free agency open is even more intriguing, making a potential Bogey to Utah scenario feel very real.

This is even more the case as Tony added additional important insight, including the fact that Bogdanovic is indeed interested in signing with the Jazz:

And that the Jazz are focused on him above names like Tobias Harris (who just wasn’t really realistic anyway after the Conley trade) or Bobby Portis (who they’re still presumably meeting with today). Note, the second tweet below was in response to a since deleted tweet asking who the Jazz were focusing on between Bogey and Portis, which Tony clarified in the third tweet listed below:

In a lot of ways, this would be an exciting and sensible move for the Utah Jazz. Bojan Bogdanovic is a renowned shooter who converted on an incredible 42.5 percent of his triples a season ago. Considering all the wide open threes that Quin Snyder’s offense generates, coupled with the fact that Bogey will have the luxury of being a third scoring option behind Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley makes his addition a riveting fit.

But he also brings so much more to the table than just three-point shooting. Bogey can create off the dribble and has an expansive offensive repertoire that allows him to produce points in a number of ways. He’s an excellent off-ball cutter that’s crafty at getting open for easy shots.

He’s also a far better defender than what he’s getting credited for. Sure, during his time in Brooklyn and Washington, he was known as an absolute defensive liability. But when he joined the Indiana Pacers prior to the 2017-18 season, he knew that in order to enjoy minutes on a team whose mantra has long been heavily focused on defense, he’d have to improve in that manner. And improve he did in a big way.

In the 2017-18 season, of all the players who played significant minutes for the Pacers, Bogey had the second best defensive rating on the team, trailing only Victor Oladipo, who was an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection that year.

Remember when Quin Snyder and the Jazz coaching staff challenged Joe Ingles that if he wanted to stay on the floor, he’d need to prove he wasn’t liable on defense? And then Ingles responded in a massive way which signaled a pivot in Ingles’ career as a perennial bench and role player to an all-around impact player? Bojan’s turn in 2017-18 was quite similar to that.

No, he’s never going to be considered an absolute lock-down guy and, like Joe, he struggles with lateral quickness and getting beat off the dribble at times. But what he lacks there, he makes up for in solid footwork, defensive IQ, discipline and hustle. Especially in Utah’s excellent defensive system, he would be just fine.

Not only that, but at six-foot-eight, 216 pounds, Bogey is bigger and stronger than many presume. He’d be playing the four a lot of the time in Utah and quite honestly in some matchups going against bigger power forwards rather than quick wings would be beneficial for his defensive style.

Most importantly would be the electric addition Bogey would provide to Utah’s offense. Along with Conley and Mitchell, Bogdanovic is a player who can go off for 30+ points on any given night. When’s the last time the Jazz have had the luxury of three players who can do that? Not only that, but as pointed out by Forbes’ Ben Dowsett in the tweet below, Bojan isn’t just a good three-point shooter, he’s an elite one. For his career, he’s a 45 percent three-point shooter from the corner and went a deadly 49.5 percent from that area last season.

Those familiar with Quin Snyder’s offensive schemes imagining the corner three opportunities Bogdanovic could get should be licking their chops.

Of course, while I’m sure this is all sounding so sweet right now, the downside to a potential Bogdanovic addition is that it would assuredly mean the end of Derrick Favors‘ time in Utah. In order to afford Bogey, the Jazz would have to turn down the team option for the second year of Favors’ contract, allowing him to enter unrestricted free agency.

This would quite frankly be a big loss. Yes, I know there is skepticism about Derrick Favors being the best fit alongside Rudy Gobert and a lot of concern about paying him so handsomely to largely fill a backup role at the center spot behind the Stifle Tower, but Favors has still been a crucial part of this team. If the Jazz opt to go with shooting in Bogdanovic, then Favors’ size, rebounding, rim protection and all-around body of work will be greatly missed.

He’s also the currently longest-tenured Jazzman who was won over the hearts of fans in Salt Lake City. So losing him would be nothing short of heart-breaking.

But if Jazz brass feels adding a prolific third scorer in Bojan Bogdanovic is the way to go to make the team jump to the next level, then so be it. I’ve said several times that a team won’t get better unless they take calculated risks, and while passing on Favors and all he brings to add Bogey would definitely be risky, I can also see how it could pay major dividends.

Next: Utah Jazz 2nd Round Pick Justin Wright-Foreman: Professional Scorer?

His addition to the Jazz roster is still far from a guarantee, as he could still very well be leaning towards his incumbent Pacers team who claimed that Bogdanovic was a priority this offseason. Fortunately, with the official start of free agency set to get underway in a mere handful of hours, it shouldn’t be long at all before we have a clearer picture of what the Jazz intend to do in order to take the next step with their promising roster.

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