Bogdanovic ‘super happy and excited to be part of the Pistons'

The decision to part with Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee was enormously painful from an emotional standpoint and clearly necessary from the perspective of objectivity when the return for the Pistons solves the many needs Bojan Bogdanovic addresses.

“He checks a lot of boxes,” Dwane Casey nodded after conducting the first Pistons training camp practice Tuesday. “Experience, shooting, the whole 9 yards. It helps everybody.”

Casey admits it will be a challenge to find roles befitting of the talent for the four remaining big men on the roster – Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren, already making an impression – never mind the complications that ensue when Olynyk made it a five-man cohort.

Casey was a long-time admirer of Olynyk dating to his days as Toronto’s coach when Olynyk was a key component of rival Boston’s makeup. And in Lee, the Pistons lost one of general manager Troy Weaver’s “core four” – the rookie class of 2020, his first draft, that also included Stewart, Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey.

“It’s tough,” Casey admitted of parting ways with Olynyk and Lee. “You lose a guy like Saben, who’s kind of a glue guy for the team, close to everybody. Kelly, just a pro. That’s the toughest part about this business and everybody shed a tear. You just get emotional. But at the same time, for the good of the team, you get a guy like Bojan that everybody in the league wanted.”

Bogdanovic, for his part, was back in his native Europe when news of the trade came down. He changed plans to make it to Detroit in time for a planned Sunday team dinner ahead of camp.

“Very excited to be here with this young group of guys and a coach that is really experienced,” Bogdanovic, 33, said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m here just two days. Everything is great so far.”

Bogdanovic not only balances the roster, but his 3-point shooting, proven IQ, experience and two-way ability fits so snugly with what the Pistons hoped to add to complement a roster that revolves around second-year guard Cade Cunningham.

“He’s the franchise player,” Bogdanovic said. “He’s a great guy, first of all, and then a great player. So putting me on the roster next to him, he’s going to have more space to operate. We will learn about each other soon.”

“We’ll see. It was the first day, but I’m crossing my fingers and toes and everything else to hope they do (develop a keen chemistry),” Casey said. “Both of them are smart men and they both know the game. All they have to do is learn to play with each other. They’ll get it because both of them are smart and talented men.”

The fact Bogdanovic got traded from Utah, amid a stark rebuilding after an off-season that saw both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell sent elsewhere for massive draft hauls, was not a surprise. The fact the Pistons won the chase caught the basketball world off-guard. Bogdanovic wasn’t investing much emotional capital in monitoring the market for him despite the rumor mill being filled with suggestions he was headed for a contender with the Suns and Lakers mentioned prominently.

“I didn’t have any preference,” Bogdanovic said. “There’s a lot of rumors. Who knows if that’s true or not? I’m super happy and excited to be part of the Pistons.”

“He’s in Croatia and he flies across (the Atlantic Ocean). He’s here for our first team meeting Sunday night,” Casey said. “That says a lot about how he feels about Detroit.”