Bojan Bogdanovic pleaded his case with all of his teammates, each of his coaches, and every decisionmaker in the Utah Jazz front office. The Croatian forward had been diagnosed with a ruptured ligament in his right wrist. But having already played through the pain for much of the season, Bogdanovic talked to everyone about delaying surgery so that he could help his team during the NBA playoffs.
In the end, however, reason won out.
Bogdanovic’s wrist was surgically repaired in May, ending his first season with the Jazz prematurely but setting him up for a healthy 2020-21 campaign.
“This was the smart decision,” Bogdanovic said Tuesday as training camp opened around the league. “We all decided it was better to have a healthy team at the start of this season instead of putting me in a position to end up … being sidelined for more time.”
Bogdanovic was the Jazz’s second-leading scorer last season, averaging 20.2 points while shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc — and he did it while playing through a wrist injury that had been nagging him since January.
“I was in pain for the most of the season but we didn’t know it was that major,” Bogdanovic said.
The 31-year-old said the first months of his rehab were difficult for myriad reasons. The Jazz kept Bogdanovic front of mind as they resumed the season in the Orlando Bubble, starting practices with a cheer in his honor, placing larger-than-life sized images of the Croatian in their hotel, and talking to him before games via Zoom. Still, Bogdanovic wanted to be on the court.
“I missed being around those guys,” he said. “The feeling of the games—especially because the playoffs is the most exciting part of the season.”
Bogdanovic said he was in a cast for two months before doctors removed the pins in his wrist. Since then, he has slowly been working to restore motion and strength to his shooting wrist.
“It’s been a long time in recovery,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s the first time I’m in this position, the first time I have any major injury. So it’s been tough for me mentally.”
Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey also expressed his pleasure with Bogdanovic’s progress but has not committed to a timeline for his full return.
“He’s progressed well,” Lindsey said. “We’ll see where his level is and … a week from now we’ll determine if we want him to take contact or not. But so far, so good.”
Bogdanovic said he has been in Utah for about two weeks now, preparing for the start of the new season. While he is optimistic about his chances when he will be officially cleared for contact practices remains unknown.
“Right now, I’m in a good position,” he said. “My wrist is getting better. I’ve started to work on the court as well, shooting 3s. But I don’t know which position I am in right now.
“We will need to review my situation when we start with contact practice. I can’t tell you if I’m going to be ready or not for the beginning of the season … but I’m really happy with the position I’m in right now.”