Lakers pursue Bojan Bogdanovic, potential Jae Crowder three-team deal and more: Shams’ Inside Pass

On Thursday, nearly 90 percent of the NBA’s players become trade-eligible and the marketplace will open up in full force ahead of the G League Showcase in Las Vegas from Dec. 19-22. The Showcase will give team executives an opportunity to meet face-to-face, connect on year-round conversations and potential trade concepts and scout the G League’s elite Ignite roster as well as other teams.

So far, team executives across the NBA say there have been increased discussions and several check-ins regarding personal rivals. The league’s parity — most teams vying for postseason and Play-In Tournament berths — means the true buyers and sellers will take time to reveal themselves before the Feb. 9 trade deadline.

Following a 2-10 start, the Los Angeles Lakers, now 11-15 and three games out of sixth place, have turned their season around and are seen as a key team in the trade market this season. 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. With Anthony Davis having an MVP-caliber season and LeBron James turning in another strong campaign, it will be fascinating to monitor how these Lakers approach Feb. 9.

Bogdanovic, 33, is in the midst of a tremendous season for the Pistons, averaging 21 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from 3-point range — including a 38-point outing in a loss to the Lakers on Sunday night. 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.

ace The Athletic’s James Edwards III wrote, Bogdanovic has become a leader for this young Pistons group, a productive catalyst on and off the floor, showing exactly why general manager Troy Weaver does not want to move him.

For the Lakers, Russell Westbrook has found his stride as a sixth man, posting a staggering difference of averaging 15 points, eight assists and 5.4 rebounds on 42 percent field-goal shooting and 32 percent from 3-point range in 22 games off the bench compared to 10.3 points, 4.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds on 28.9 percent field-goal shooting and 8.3 percent from 3-point range in three games as a starter.

Moving Westbrook to the sixth-man role has worked brilliantly for first-time head coach Darvin Ham. In addition, the Lakers have made clear they’re prioritizing championship-altering players for their trade-eligible two first-round picks (2027, 2029). It remains to be seen who could become available as the season goes on.

In the meantime, two notable names surely on the market, and on the move, are Phoenix’s Jae Crowder and Atlanta’s John Collins.

Multiple league sources said the Suns recently engaged in three-team talks that would have sent Crowder to Milwaukee, four Bucks second-round draft picks along with players to Houston, and Eric Gordon and/or Kenyon Martin Jr. to Phoenix. The hold up in the potential three-teamer was that the Rockets are coveting one first-round pick for Gordon, and for Martin a very good first-rounder, not a batch of second-rounders, according to sources. The Rockets have had interest in Gordon from several contending teams, sources said, but appear less willing to entertain the topic of Martin.

Martin has had a breakout third season, averaging 10.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 24.2 minutes while shooting 54 percent shooting from the field. The 21-year-old has this season and 2023-24 remaining on his contract and should command a strong extension next summer or a free agency offer in 2024. The Rockets have compiled eight first-round picks through 2029 and have a talented young core of players in Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith II, Tari Eason, Jae’Sean Tate and Martin.

The Hawks and Heat also are interested in Crowder, and Miami is expected to have a re-energized pursuit soon because it has a slew of players, such as Dewayne Dedmon and Victor Oladipo, available to be traded starting Thursday. The Bucks could continue to seek a third team to facilitate a trade for Crowder, which would be a homecoming of sorts for the Georgia native who played his college ball at Marquette.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have had several teams in the Collins market, such as Utah, Washington, Brooklyn and Dallas, sources said. Atlanta has not shown interest so far in a potential framework that would contain Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, those sources said. Phoenix has a desire for Collins but does not appear inclined to take on the forward, who is in the second season of a five-year, $125 million pact.

Washington has a piece in Kyle Kuzma that would be appealing to Atlanta, as reported in last week’s feature on the breakout Wizards forward, but there doesn’t appear to be traction on a potential framework there.

For their part, the Nets have been surging recently, winning seven of their last eight games and currently holding the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference at 16-12, and could look at Collins as a necessary jolt to their frontcourt.

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II is targeting his season debut in the next one to two weeks, sources said. Payton, who signed a three-year, $28 million deal to join the Trail Blazers in July, has been sidelined due to offseason surgery on a core muscle injury. Payton was a key rotation player for the Warriors’ 2022 championship team and should assume a similar do-it-all role for the 14-12 Trail Blazers.

(Photo of Bojan Bogdanovic and Russell Westbrook: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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