The word from inner circles throughout the NBA landscape is that the Detroit Pistons are reluctant to trade sweet-shooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic. It makes a certain amount of sense that a team with a dearth of 3-point shooting would want to hang onto one of the most reliable 3-point shooters in the game despite the fact that they aren’t competing for anything other than attempting to stay out of the bottom of the NBA standings.
The Pistons, though, might have changed that calculus just a bit after reportedly sending away Kevin Knox, the draft rights to Gabriele Procida, and a 2024 second-round pick for Utah Jazz stretch big Simone Fontecchio from the Utah Jazz.
Fontecchio is already 28-years-old, but he’s only in his second NBA season and about to hit restricted free agency. It’s clear to me that grabbing not just Fontecchio’s skillset but also controlling his restricted free agent rights was of primary importance to Detroit in this deal.
Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 209 pounds, Fontecchio is exactly the kind of player fans have been screaming for since before the season even began — a big win who could shoot the 3 at high volume and be a neutral to plus defender who knew how to move his feet.
The Pistons will certainly re-sign Fontecchio to a multi-year deal this offseason, and he will be in a Detroit uniform playing a role similar to what Bogdanovic has done since also coming from the Jazz just before the start of last season.
That tells me that the Pistons should certainly be more comfortable cashing in on the value of Bogdanovic now before the 34-year-old regresses any further and interest wanes. Recently, Marc Stein reported that the Philadelphia 76ers are among the teams interested in trading for Bogdanovic.
The prevailing wisdom is that the Pistons have been angling for a decent player and a first-round pick for Bojan. Perhaps the trade for Fontecchio makes it more palatable to accept either a pick or a player, but not hold out for a deal of both when it might never come to fruition.
It is interesting to note that Bogdanovic is listed as questionable tonight against the Kings with left calf soreness. It could be a total coincidence that the veteran is potentially a DNP on the team’s final game before the NBA trade deadline after missing just two of the team’s previous 30 games.
The truth is, regardless of the Fontecchio trade, Bojan should have been sold to the highest bidder this trade deadline. He is nearly 35 years old, and the Pistons don’t have the personnel to cover up his defensive deficiencies. There is no way he’s still on the roster by the time the Pistons are contending for even a play-in spot so there is no sense in holding onto him and then losing him for nothing. He is an asset you cash in and move on.
If I am able to truly manifest this deal, it will be interesting to see where Fontecchio falls in the rotation. The Jazz are a far superior team to the Pistons, and they were starting Simone for nearly every game since late November.
If the Pistons plan on starting him, it would seemingly be at the small forward position where he slotted in next to John Collins. The Pistons could play him as a big forward alongside Bogdanovic if he remains on the team, or they could play him alongside Isaiah Stewart. Alternatively, this could signal a shift with the Pistons prioritizing a high-volume 3-point shooting specialist like Fontecchio that would allow them to again start Ausar Thompson.
Projecting into next season, it certainly feels like Fontecchio and Thompson are a pair that fits together offensively and defensively.