What if the Wizards never let go of Bojan Bogdanovic? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
By now Bojan Bogdanovic has made it clear the Wizards probably should have kept him in the summer of 2017. They let him walk in free agency and instead kept Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr., who play the same position.
Porter couldn't stay healthy and Oubre didn't improve enough for them to re-sign him. Both were traded away. Meanwhile, Bogdanovic soon after began scoring at a higher volume and with more efficiency than ever before.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
But Bogdanovic had another solid game on Thursday night in the second round of the playoffs with 16 points as the Jazz held off the Clippers to go up 2-0. It was Bogdanovic's seventh double-digit scoring game in seven tries so far this postseason, as he's averaged 18.0 points while shooting 46.3 percent from deep in the playoffs.
This run has led to a lot of Wizards fans wondering on social media what could have been. So, here's a look at the different ramifications of what is becoming one of the bigger 'what ifs' in recent Wizards history:
They would have saved a lot of money
It's not just that Bogdanovic has been much better and more durable than Porter in the four years since the latter was re-signed, he's also done so at a much cheaper price. Porter got a max contract for the Wizards worth $106.5 million over four years, while Bogdanovic made just $55.9 million during that span.
The first year of their deals saw Bogdanovic earn 42.5% of Porter's salary, at $10.5 million compared to $24.7 million. That's a difference of $14.2 million, which would have come in handy as the Wizards filled out the rest of their roster. If they kept Bogdanovic, maybe they could have justified keeping Oubre as well. The extension Oubre got in Phoenix started out at $15.6 million annually. Regardless, the Wizards could have fit another starting-caliber player under their salary cap.
More value for the first-round pick
If the Wizards had kept Bogdanovic and he played as well as he has the last four years, the view of the first-round pick they traded to get him would be completely different nowadays. They traded their 2017 first-round pick to the Nets in a multi-player deal for Bogdanovic. The Nets then selected Jarrett Allen, who developed nicely and then helped them land James Harden in a trade with Houston.
The Wizards essentially traded a first-round pick for half of a season from Bogdanovic. If they got the value he provided other teams the past few years, then the decision to trade the pick would look very smart in hindsight. They would have found a cheaper and better replacement for Porter right before he landed a max contract extension. The Wizards front office was thinking ahead, they just didn't seal the deal.
Would they have traded for Bertans?
If Bogdanovic not only re-signed with the Wizards in 2017 but remained with the organization beyond two years, he could have factored into the Wizards' thinking when they traded for Davis Bertans in the summer of 2019. That was a brilliant trade by newly-promoted general manager Tommy Sheppard. He gave the Spurs former second-round pick Aaron White, who still has yet to appear in an NBA game.
If Bogdanovic was in the picture, maybe the Wizards wouldn't covet shooting like they did with Bertans. Maybe the call never would have been made. Or, they could have pulled off the same deal and had Bertans and Bogdanovic as a duo, two tall sharpshooters to spread the floor. They would have been a deadly combo.
More wins from 2017-to-2019?
In four years since leaving Washington, Bogdanovic has averaged 17.2 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 40.7% from three on 5.7 attempts per game. Before he joined the Utah Jazz, he started by playing two seasons for the Indiana Pacers where he stood out particularly when Victor Oladipo got injured in the 2018-19 season. The Pacers needed someone to fill the scoring void and Bogdanovic stepped up to perform with flying colors.
That drew a contrast to the Wizards, who at the time were dealing with significant injuries to All-Star point guard John Wall. Once Wall's body started breaking down, they had trouble recovering and fell to the eight-seed in 2017-18 and then out of the playoffs entirely in 2018-19. If Bogdanovic had stepped up for Washington instead, maybe things would have gone differently.