Detroit — Winning is important to Bojan Bogdanovic.
For the past seven seasons, he’s been on teams that have qualified for the NBA playoffs. So, when Bogdanovic was traded from a perennial postseason team in the Utah Jazz to a rebuilding Pistons team in the final year of his contract, he wasn’t sure what his basketball future looked like.
Upon his arrival in Detroit in late September, Bogdanovic conversed with Pistons general manager Troy Weaver about his role on Detroit’s youthful roster, along with how the team will look going forward.
Those talks turned out to be fruitful for both sides, as Bogdanovic recently signed a two-year contract extension worth $39.1 million, a deal that could keep him in Detroit through the 2024-25 season.
The move keeps Bogdanovic, a gifted scorer who can play either forward spot, alongside the Pistons’ young nucleus of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart as they strive to restore Detroit’s winning basketball culture.
“Just talking to Troy (Weaver) and (Pistons team owner Tom Gores), they assured me that the team is going to go in the right direction,” Bogdanovic told The Detroit News. “We got a good salary cap (situation) for the summer that we’re going to try to bring someone in … We’ve been rebuilding, so they’re trying to win, so that’s the first thing that I asked them, and that was the main reason (to extend), honestly.”
Bogdanovic, 33, was in the final year of his contract, which will pay him $19.5 million this season. Detroit is expected to have $48 million in cap space this summer, third-most behind Houston ($59.3 million) and Indiana ($49.8 million), and Weaver will likely use that available space to attract another cornerstone piece to add to their roster.
A two-year extension was the maximum length allowed because Bogdanovic was traded in September. Bogdanovic will earn $20 million during the first year of the new deal in 2023-24 and could earn up to $19 million in the second year of his contract. However, only $2 million of that second year is guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
The Pistons value what Bogdanovic brings to the team. A native of Croatia, Bogdavnovic is a natural scorer who can score from all three levels of the floor. He’s elevated his play through the first nine games of the season, averaging a career-high 21.8 points and 2.1 assists. His shooting splits are also career-bests: 52% from the field, 50% from beyond the arc and 94% from the free-throw line.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey pointed to Bogdanoivic’s leadership as an important factor, as the franchise tries to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
“He’s one of the pieces that we are building with and want to go forward with,” Casey said. “We’re still in rebuilding mode, but one thing that he’s shown is his leadership, and that’s what you gotta have on a young team. You gotta have some veteran pieces mixed in there when they’re going against grizzled veterans.
“He’s that piece. He fits in. He’s patient. He’s sharing his knowledge with the players, things that he’s seen over his career and his ability speaks for himself.”
One month after playing with his new teammates, specifically Detroit’s dynamic young backcourt of Cunningham and Ivey, Bogdanovic serves as a deadeye shooter on the wing who can also put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself and others. He complements Ivey and Cunningham, both of whom are skilled at driving and kicking to open shooters.
Cunningham said Bogdanovic shares his wisdom and shows him how to make his game easier, which benefits the entire team.
“Great deal for him. Great opportunity for us,” Cunningham said. “It’s a guy I really enjoy playing with since we had him. To lock him in for a little bit longer is big for us, and I’m excited for it.”
Bogdanovic also plays with an edge, which is a testament to his commitment to winning. If he doesn’t agree with a call by the ref, he’s not afraid of showing it. The two technical fouls he’s picked up this season can attest to that. That fiery intensity is a dominant trait of the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” and “Goin’ to Work” eras of old.
It’s become evident that Bogdanovic is an asset to the Pistons’ offense, and as long as they’re in a position to improve, he’ll be along for the ride.
“They assured me that they’re trying to win and that’s how it’s gonna be for the next couple of years, so I’m all in for that,” Bogdanovic said.