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SALT LAKE CITY — It wasn’t just empty talk when Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik emphasized that the Jazz were going to be “aggressive” in free agency.
The Jazz had already swung a deal for Mike Conley — landing a third pillar to team up with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — but they weren’t satisfied with that.
On Sunday, the Jazz agreed to a four-year, $73 million deal with former Indiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic, KSL.com confirmed. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal.
Bogdanovic averaged 18 points and 4.1 rebounds for Indiana last season while shooting 42.5% from three. After Victor Oladipo went down with a season-ending injury, Bogdanovic upped his average to 20.6 points per game.
The 6-foot-8 forward sharpshooter, who turned 30 in April, can handle the ball some and his game should fit right in with the Quin Snyder’s system. Bogdanovic is a natural small forward but can play the role of stretch four — something the Jazz have coveted — if needed.
But there was one negative about the deal. To clear up the cap space to sign Bogdanovic, the Jazz couldn't bring back Derrick Favors. The Athletic was first to report that the Jazz have traded Favors to New Orleans, and ESPN reported early Monday that New Orleans was sending back a 2021 and 2023 second round pick in the deal.
By trading Favors, it allowed him to avoid the waiver wire and gives him a say in where he'd play next — while also giving Utah some form of compensation for what had been its longest-tenured player on the roster.
Losing a player of Favors defensive capabilities does still, but there’s a strong belief within the organization that Rudy Gobert is capable of turning a team into a top tier defensive squad almost by himself. Now, the Jazz have the pieces to become an offensive juggernaut, too.
Over the last three seasons, Bogdanovic hasn’t shot lower than 39.1% from 3-point range and neither has Ingles. Conley is a 37.5% career shooter from deep with Mitchell was 36.2% from three last season.
The Jazz’s spacing issues should be a thing of the past. They have shooters, they have playmakers, and they have one of the best rim-rolling big men in the league in Gobert who was able to set the NBA record for dunks in a season even with teams packing the paint.
All the pieces suggest that the Jazz should be really really good on the offensive end.
Bogdanovic might not be the headline-grabbing name like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker or the group of free agents that are commanding max money this offseason, but he is a player that makes Utah a contender in the Western Conference.
“We have critical decisions that will be coming up; we’ll be doing them as a group,” Zanik said in May. “The motivation comes from competition, right? … We want to compete. We want to be the last team standing at the end of the day.”
ESPN’s Royce Young tweeted the Jazz were “probably the West favorite.” Wojnarowski tweeted the “Jazz are a legitimate Western contender now.”
With the West wide open, the Jazz have made two moves they saw as necessary to take the next step. They upgraded Ricky Rubio, who has reportedly signed with the Phoenix Suns, with Conley. And they added one of the top shooters in the league to a team that was in desperate need of shotmakers.
Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said the Jazz wanted to add a “sniper” this offseason. They have done just that. Over the last two seasons, Bogdanovic has shot over 40 percent from three on nearly five attempts per game.
But it did cost them Favors.
Favors averaged 11.8 points and 7.4 rebounds last season while serving as the team’s starting power forward and backup center. He has been with the Jazz since being traded to Utah in February of 2011.
“Despite all the craziness, just want to take a moment to say how much I appreciate (Favors) and how much he helped me and us grow!” Gobert wrote on Twitter. “This guy is a FORCE and people will realize it very soon. Good luck in your next chapter bro.”
With Favors gone, the Jazz will lose a defensive presence and a player that was a key part in multiple playoff victories. The hope is that Bogdanovic’s offense will make up for it.