In an interview with a Croatian newspaper, Bojan Bogdanovic says he's happy with the Nets, loves New York and hopes that he won't be included in any trade packages with "stars" that the Nets might make.
"I don’t know what team management is planning, but I know trades are normal thing and that in packages the stars go more players," the Nets rookie told Hrvoje Sliskovic of Jutarnji List. "I feel great in Brooklyn and hope I won’t be traded anywhere."
Not to worry, Bogie, you're sticking around. His fears are unfounded said a league source familiar with the Nets off-season thinking. "He is not going anywhere," the source told NetsDaily.
Although Bogdanovic has not been mentioned as a trade piece, the Nets may very well have to give up something of value in packages that would send players like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack elsewhere.
Bogdanovic, who usually says little when interviewed in the U.S., was quite open about how difficult things were at times in Brooklyn, admitting to being "out of my mind" when he was benched after starting early in the season. At the time, he was criticized for not being aggressive enough. He had an answer for that.
"How could I be more aggressive if I didn’t have a ball in my hands?" he said. "I was last offensive option, just waited there and I was getting a ball purely by accident. Only later did our offensive system became more suitable to me. Obviously I gained a trust from the coach, but even more from teammates. The more I played better, the more they looked for me."
He admitted that his benching at first depressed him, but that he got what Lionel Hollins was trying to do.
"I’m satisfied with complete season, except with that month when coach Hollins didn’t use me much," he said. "I don’t know if he tried to awake some kind of spite in me, or put me in some place, but he managed to do it. After he put me back in, I started to play better and shoot more."
It wasn't easy, he admitted. He had been the star for the teams he played for, not someone who only got minutes in blowouts. He said the team's assistant coaches and Billy King helped him.
"I was out of my mind in that time of crisis, because I never was before in same situation," Bogdanovic emphasized. "To be frozen on a bench is strange to me. It was my darker hours there. I worked more, mostly on my own, because you don’t have time for team practices. Talking with assistant coaches, Billy King helped."
Another big help he said was the All-Star break, playing well in the Rising Star Challenge, and getting a week off in California "to clear my head."
The high point of the season came at the end, when Bogdanovic carried a lot of the load, averaging 14.4 points in April while shooting 52.6 percent overall and 48.8 from deep for the month, winning Rookie of the Month in the Easts over fellow Euro Nikola Mirotic.
His best single game, his season high 28-point effort in the final game, a win that insured the team would make the playoffs. "My best game definitely was that last against Orlando Magic, because of importance of the match and my game," he pointed out.
A native of Mostar, Bosnia, Bogdanovic came to love the big city ... and its anonymity.
"I really enjoyed this one year in New York, I should say it was one of the best years for me," he said. "The Nets and Knicks are pretty much always in public media, so people recognize us a lot. Even I was surprised how many people wanted to take picture with me. I love American way of life, especially in New York where everybody minds his own business, so you could be completely free. There are no rude comments from strangers, and if someone recognize you he keeps it for himself.
"I met a new circle of friends, I had my friends visited me from Croatia. I wouldn’t be saying anything new if I said New York is terrific city."
As for his adjustment to the NBA, Bogdanovic credited Mirza Teletovic as well as D-Will and Kevin Garnett for helping him ease the way.
"First things that cross my mind when some ask me what I would remember about first year are my first days in Brooklyn, and talks with older players, Garnett and Williams. They are great guys," he said. "Everyone helped me, but most of all Mirza. Having him beside me was best thing to happen to me. He helped me with everything, starting with language. I knew English, but he helped me with slang.
"When I came to NBA I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t follow NBA much. I decided to go to the NBA to realize my true potential. And my first conclusion was how much is different than in Europe. But I found out the first thing you have to do is not to be afraid of anyone. Everything was great for me, except those few weeks when I took two or three steps back.
"As season was coming to an end I felt more and more comfortable."
NetsDaily thanks Igor Marinovic of Sportske Novosti, the Croatian sports journal, and Eunets, one of our Balkan fans, for their translations. It is much appreciated.