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Bogdanovic trade a five-scoop sundae of a deal for Weaver, Pistons

You can win a trade even if the bottom line means solving one problem while creating another. That’s not what happened for the Pistons when Troy Weaver threaded a handful of needles by dealing Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee to Utah for Bojan Bogdanovic.

With one trade, Weaver simultaneously filled a critical need for more 3-point shooting, eliminated a frontcourt logjam, bolstered a wing corps in need of reinforcement, solved the mystery of cut-down day, balanced Dwane Casey’s starting and bench units and – if you needed a cherry atop this five-scoop sundae – created a little more cap space for next off-season when the Pistons might be on the verge of making serious noise.

“I feel like we finally have a full complement of players,” Weaver said Monday before the Bogdanovic trade was officially completed, Bogdanovic the element that so ideally complements the roster he joins. “First two years, we didn’t. And that’s my job – to make sure we have a roster in place that can go and compete.”

Weaver has stayed remarkably disciplined through his two-plus years as the chief architect of the Pistons restoration, shunning all quick fixes. That discipline was on full display over an off-season that saw them amass even more young talent – hello, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren – even as outsiders wondered about a surplus of big men and guards and a shortage, if not a dearth, of two-way wings.

Then, practically on the eve of training camp, along comes the opportunity Weaver awaited. Olynyk was a desperately needed addition a year ago and remains a valuable player, but the trade for Marvin Bagley III and Weaver’s astonishing draft-night maneuvering to land Duren made for an overcrowded depth chart at center.

“His IQ is very high,” said Cory Joseph, Bogdanovic’s teammate in Indiana. “He’s a competitor in all aspects. He does what it takes to win games. And, boy, he can put that round, orange thing in the bucket, whether that’s getting to the rim and finishing or, obviously, his outside shooting ability is another dynamic he brings.”

Here are the benefits of a deal that makes perfect sense from every conceivable angle:

  • Bogdanovic is really good. He’s averaged 18.1, 17.0, 20.2 and 18.0 points over his last four seasons – starting 275 of 275 games – with true shooting percentages straddling 60 percent each season. He gets to the line. He’s an above-average starter who is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter on high volume, taking essentially half his shots from the arc over the last several seasons. But he’s also a talented post-up player who’ll punish switches by smaller defenders and Casey is very likely to dial up plays that put Bogdanovic in pick-and-roll situations.
  • He almost certainly starts. The odds-on likelihood is an opening night lineup of Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. The presence of Bogdanovic and Bey creates the space Casey prioritized for Cunningham. Ivey will benefit every bit as much for the driving lanes that now figure to be that much wider. Olynyk was one of a half-dozen players who was a contender to fill that last starting spot, but all of them came with fit or other question marks. Bogdanovic checks off pretty much every box as a seamless fit.
  • Duren still might not be part of the rotation, but it will be much easier to manage his development now with only three veteran big men ahead of him – Stewart, Bagley and Nerlens Noel – than with four. Even in practices, it would have been a stretch for Casey to make the most of a roster with five big men, arguably all of them better suited to center than power forward. Time with the Motor City Cruise still makes eminent good sense for Duren – and Weaver and Casey’s track record suggests they’ll pursue that option aggressively. But there won’t be any holding back of Duren if he gives them reason to expect he won’t be overwhelmed. Having one less veteran clogging up the depth chart makes for a healthier environment.
  • You don’t have to squint hard to imagine late-game lineups of Cunningham with Bey, Alec Burks and Bogdanovic and, yes, the latter trio will henceforth be known as the Killer Bs. That gives the Pistons some serious perimeter firepower in a lineup that also allows prime defensive flexibility.
  • There’s a world in which the Pistons pick up the option on Burks’ contract for 2023-24 and exercise Bird rights to retain Bogdanovic while using what projects to be ample cap space to add more veteran help and enter another phase of Weaver’s restoration a season from now. There’s also a world in which contenders are tripping over themselves to add extra shooting at the trade deadline and Burks and Bogdanovic become two of the most desirable snipers on the market. Weaver’s decision to trade Jerami Grant is a glaring example of the discipline he’s maintained in achieving his goal of building toward sustained success – a willingness to accept a short-term setback for long-term payoff.
  • Adding Bogdanovic also makes it easier for Casey to field a formidable second unit. If we assume the Bogdanovic/Bey/Stewart/Cunningham/Ivey starting lineup is correct, then the second unit likely would feature Burks – when he’s cleared to go as he recovers from April foot surgery – Bagley, Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo and Isaiah Livers with veterans like Noel and Cory Joseph as reliable options. Burks and Livers give that unit the shooting it needs. Bogdanovic’s presence in the starting lineup allays concerns about how that unit would function without Burks’ 3-point threat.
  • Just a hunch, but Bogdanovic is going to be so good for Cunningham. There’s a high probability that those two are going to develop remarkable chemistry based on everything we know about their skill sets and believe about their IQs. Casey probably will stagger minutes some for Cunningham and Ivey, giving Ivey time at Killian Hayes’ side, too, and might also want to stagger minutes for Bey and Bogdanovic. But it would not be surprising if Cunningham and Bogdanovic are on the floor together more often than any other set of Pistons. Bogdanovic’s all-around scoring chops and Cunningham’s creative genius hold all kinds of tantalizing potential.

Casey loved Olynyk and was a big proponent of pursuing him in free agency, saying he’d been a huge fan of his since his days in Toronto when Olynyk was coming up in Boston. But you have to believe Casey is over the moon with this trade for the addition of not only a borderline elite 3-point shooter but one who does so many other things to warrant 30-plus minutes a night at a cost that doesn’t weaken the rotation elsewhere. “We didn’t want to lose Kelly,” Casey said on Monday, “but to get a guy like Bojan will help our young guys. He’s about structure. He’s about the right things. He’s a pro. That can learn from him by example.”

  • Bogdanovic doesn’t just make the Pistons more functional, but more fun, too. Don’t overlook that aspect. There are going to be nights Bogdanovic, Burks, Bey and Livers all have it rolling from the 3-point line, Cunningham is firing skip passes with either hand when he’s not syncing up in pick and rolls with Stewart or Bagley, Ivey is doing his electric stuff in transition and Little Caesars Arena is on fire.

Just 22 days ’til opening night, by the way.