Bojan Bogdanovic was conspicuous by his absence when the Nets returned from All-Star break Wednesday night, but because a trade moving him to Washington for the Wizards’ 2017 first-round pick and other considerations was not official by the time practice ended, no one from the organization was permitted to discuss the obvious deal.
Nearly three hours after practice ended, the Nets announced official terms that were first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and confirmed by Newsday. Bogdanovic, the sharp-shooting small forward and Nets 2015 first-round forward Chris McCullough, who has spent much of this season in the D-League, were obtained by the Wizards for forward Andrew Nicholson, guard Marcus Thornton and Washington’s lottery-protected first-round pick. If the NBA draft were held today, the Wizards would select 24th.
Trade speculation from the beginning of the season focused mainly on franchise center Brook Lopez, who was at Wednesday’s practice but did not speak to the media. Bogdanovic’s name began circulating recently when it became apparent the Wizards want more scoring off the bench. Bogdanovic is in the midst of a career-best season, averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
Washington’s primary target reportedly was Lakers guard Lou Williams, but he was traded to Houston for Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick. Bogdanovic was the best alternative for the Wizards, and the Williams deal set the market, allowing the Nets to acquire the first-round pick they covet.
The market for Lopez, on the other hand, was devalued on Sunday when a trade sending All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins from Sacramento to New Orleans included just one first-round pick. The Nets reportedly want two first-round picks for Lopez.
Absolutely nothing is etched in stone in the final hours before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, but appearances Tuesday and a couple of comments from coach Kenny Atkinson suggest they are likely to keep Lopez and give him a chance to pair with Jeremy Lin, who returns from his second hamstring injury Friday in Denver, where the Nets begin a brutal eight-game road trip.
Lin has played just 12 of 56 games for the Nets (9-47). Atkinson said he needs to “build up” Lin, but he also said Lin may start against the Nuggets.
“My gut, to be honest, I’d like to start him,” Atkinson said. “But we’re going to get all the information and then make the decision.”
Lin came off the bench after his first injury. Asked why he’s considering a different approach now, Atkinson expressed the need to see him with Lopez.
“It’s part of the fresh start, seeing him with Brook,” Atkinson said. “If we can do that, I think that would be ideal. Above that, is Jeremy’s health and how that works in with his minutes. But my gut is, even if the minutes are a little [less], we can probably work it where he can get with that first unit and get with Brook. We need to feel that out obviously.”
Meaning the Nets need to see a bigger sample size before deciding on whether to trade Lopez before the NBA Draft in June. Atkinson’s focus now is to see who teams well with Lin and giving opportunity to young players. First-round rookie Caris LeVert likely is in line to replace Bogdanovic as a starter, though Atkinson doesn’t want to “overwhelm” him.
One player who can’t wait for the “reset” is Lin, who described his goals for the rest of the season this way: “Win as many as you can. We’ve only won nine games, and that hurts everybody in the organization. We need to feel what it means to win. We need to build a winning culture, and my only goal is to get as many wins as we can.”