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Reports link Lakers to pursuit of Pistons’ Bojan Bogdanovic

Los Angeles Lakers v Detroit Pistons

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 11: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Detroit Pistons during the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena on December 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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The Lakers’ recent 9-5 run of play — led by an MVP-level stretch from Anthony Davis — has shown the potential Darvin Ham saw in this team, with a top-10 offense and a solid defense leading the way over those 14 games. The Lakers have looked like a quality playoff team of late.

The run has also shown the Lakers’ limitations. The biggest of those issues remains shooting — the Lakers have shot better over the last 14 games, hitting 34.2% on 3-pointers, but that is still 20th in the league (and the Lakers don’t take a lot of 3s, 29th in the league in attempts over that stretch). The Lakers need shooting and they need wing depth.

Enter Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Lakers pursued him over the summer and are still in talks with Detroit about him, according to multiple reports Monday. First, from Marc Stein’s latest newsletter.

Sources say that the Lakers recently offered a trade package to Detroit for Bogdanović centered around one future first-round pick with unspecified draft protections attached.

The Pistons have to date declined those overtures, sources add, insisting on a fully unprotected future first from the Lakers to seriously entertain a Bogdanović swap. Detroit, in fact, continues to tell interested teams (and there are several) that it wants to keep Bogdanović, who is averaging 21.0 points and shooting 50.8% from the field (43.7% on 3-pointers) as a Piston.

Shams Charania of The Athletic had these details:

The Lakers are prioritizing shooting in their conversations with teams, and have discussed packages including salaries and a protected first-round pick for Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic, league sources, who were granted anonymity so that they could speak freely, tell The Athletic. They’ve also discussed concepts involving New York’s Cam Reddish and Evan Fournier, sources said...

While Bogdanovic is a target for the Lakers — they are among roughly a dozen teams to inquire about him, offering first- or second-rounders — Detroit is showing no urgency about moving him. In fact, the Pistons have expressed to rival teams a significant reluctance about moving Bogdanovic, sources said.

The Pistons were projected to contend for a play-in spot this season, but with Cade Cunningham for an extended period — possibly for the season if he undergoes shin surgery — and the team already having the worst record in the NBA, a pivot toward the lottery in a deep draft season makes sense. As does moving on from Bogdanovic, who has been the kind of veteran locker-room leader the Pistons need around their young stars, but he may be too valuable as a trade chip.

The Lakers can get the trade done by sending Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn to Detroit, but the Pistons are wisely demanding an unprotected first-round pick as part of that package. The Pistons have the leverage: Detroit can happily hold on to Bogdanovic into the summer or next season, he’s averaging 21 points a game and shooting 43.7% from 3-point range, and the Lakers need to win now around Davis and LeBron James, who turns 38 in a few weeks.

Detroit also has multiple suitors for Bogdanovic, there is no reason for them to rush to make a trade, let the market shake out, hope for a bidding war, and see what happens.

The Lakers continue to explore trades that could send out Russell Westbrook, but league sources told NBC Sports it’s unlikely Los Angeles finds a trade that works for them — the sweeteners needed to move his $47.1 million contract, even with him playing solidly off the bench, make the price too high for the Lakers’ taste.

The Lakers have other targets for smaller deals as well, with Cam Reddish of the Knicks being high on the list, and they also need depth and length along the front line to back up Davis. Still, Bogdanovic is the best fit. This will likely play out for a while, until much closer to the Feb. 9 trade deadline, but the Lakers are in on Bogdanovic.