Team budgets are tight in the NBA at the moment. Cap space is limited, and teams aren’t really sure how the challenge of a Golden State Warriors dynasty should be best addressed. As such, the trade market and looming free agency may underwhelm.
The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement might be a boon for stars, but cost control is becoming more important than ever, for NBA teams. Veteran talent on cost-effective contracts, therefore, might become critical tools for clubs looking ahead to the postseason. Should things go right, Andrew Bogut, who has been out of the league for several weeks, could be returning to the Association.
With 13 years of playing experience with five separate teams, Bogut can offer insurance against injury as well as leadership to teams with limited playoff exposure. Despite several lower-body injuries, he can still set a pretty mean screen, hand some deft passes off, and corral the defensive boards.
Bogut’s willingness to sign with the Lakers this offseason suggests he might not necessarily be limiting his options to the best teams in the league. Here are some thoughts on where Andrew Bogut could play next.
1. The Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee isn’t just one of Bogut’s future destinations, but also the most tantalizing. He spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Bucks, and a homecoming of sorts would make a lot of sense.
Right now, Milwaukee’s front-court depth is promising but less than reliable. John Henson and Thon Maker are intriguing players, but consistent they are not. Nor is either player any sort of proven enforcer in the paint. The addition of Tyler Zeller doesn’t exactly eliminate the club’s rim protection issues.
Bogut could support these young men, while giving the Bucks a proven traditional center to anchor the team’s second unit. Here’s what he said of his leadership role in Los Angeles.
“I’ve just been trying to mentor some of the younger guys,” Bogut said. “We’ve got a really young and inexperienced team that bring a lot of energy and talent, so just some direction is needed every now and then and being one of the elder guys, [I’m] just trying to help them in the locker room.”
According to ESPN, Milwaukee flirted with signing Bogut before the start of the season, and he could certainly give the young team plenty of guidance given his long tenure in the league. He still has something to give on the defensive side of the ball as well.
If you're wondering if Bucks still have interest in signing Andrew Bogut, and if AB is interested in signing with Bucks, it's an emphatic yes. A decision isn't likely until after Feb 8 trade deadline.
— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) January 19, 2018
Bogut to Milwaukee would bring the total number of Aussies on the Bucks to three. A trio of Maker, Matthew Dellavedova, and Bogut could even be a mini-preview on the 2020 Boomers.
Joining Joe Ingles and Dante Exum in Utah isn’t out of the question either.
“It’s a long, long way away for me, ” Bogut remarked in December. “There’s a lot to happen with qualifiers and what not, but being greedy and looking at that roster we’ll have, the first time in history we could potentially stack an entire roster with NBA players bar maybe one or two guys … it’s sensational,”
2. The Houston Rockets
Houston has been on a tear as of late, most recently dismantling LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. They figure to be heavy players in the Western Conference playoffs, and young big man Clint Capela has a lot to do with this success. The Rockets’ system still demands a strong center down low.
There are plenty of veterans in H-town, but Bogut could be brought in as help, particularly when it comes to Capela. The team’s front-court depth leaves a lot to be desired, and a single injury could expose this weakness further. It doesn’t hurt that Houston does have an open roster spot, too.
Against the aforementioned Warriors, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared. Having Bogut in reserve would continue the arms race Houston GM Daryl Morey began in the off-season.
3. The Miami Heat
Going back to last season, the Heat have been playing better than anyone could have reasonably expected. That said, they are one Hassan Whiteside injury away from total disaster.
Bogut’s biggest weakness is how much the NBA has trended away from traditional centers. Stretch bigs and outside shooting are in high-demand, while Bogut’s skills are seemingly out-dated. Miami has bucked that trend to an extent, in large part because of what Whiteside uniquely offers.
Like Houston or Milwaukee, bringing Bogues aboard would be a simple way to account for future injuries. A defensive-minded vet is always a nice thing to have on the bench, and if there’s anyone who can keep an old big relevant, it’s Erik Spoelstra. Just ask Udonis Haslem.
4. The Golden State Warriors
Trade rumors surrounding Golden State’s JaVale McGee have swirled throughout the season, and it’s entirely possible head coach Steve Kerr isn’t totally comfortable relying on McGee when the postseason rolls around. Kevon Looney has had his moments, but he too comes with a few caveats.
The Warriors are heavy favorites to win the title this season, but there are no assurances in the NBA. Golden State knows Bogut well, and this familiarity could make him an attractive little addition as the season ages.
The big man would need to play in just one regular season game to qualify for an NBA playoff roster. It’s not urgent; Bogues has time to find a new home. But what if he side-stepped American basketball altogether?
5. The NBL
Bogut is an NBA champion, and at just 33 years old, he has plenty of gas in the tank. It’s not certain if he’ll play again this season, but it does look like he has a few more seasons left in the NBA.
That said, the Association has changed a lot in recent years, and Bogut’s particular skill set is becoming increasingly antiquated. If his NBA days are truly behind him, would Bogues consider a stint in the NBL?
It’s not that crazy. As we’ve established, he feels passionate about promoting Aussie hoops. Executive Director and owner of the National Basketball League, Larry Kestelman recently expressed his excitement concerning this possibility.
“Of course we would love for him to come back and still have a very substantial influence on the game and I think he can do that. Whether it’s next year or the year after, he is a very talented individual and I’m hoping we will see him back here.”
The NBL has slowly been trending towards a faster pace of basketball, but it’s nowhere near the frenetic pace and high volume shooting, that the NBA embodies right now. Bogut’s veteran experience would allow him to fit into the NBL with no issues, especially if he teams up with his Boomers teammates, like Damian Martin, Chris Goulding or Kevin Lisch.
Where could Bogut be headed? We’re all waiting to find out.