Back in the Bay: Andrew Bogut set to return to the Warriors

Yes, that feature image is about four years old. No, it is not irrelevant, not with the latest news that Andrew Bogut is closing on a return to the NBA with the Golden State Warriors.

The reigning NBL MVP and DPOY will be back in the bay, where he played for four years from 2012 to 2016, also helping the franchise to its first championship in 40 years as a key member of the 2015 title-winning team.

A meandering departure

Andrew Bogut was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2016 to free up cap space to sign Kevin Durant. This was the start of a fallow period, where he bounced from the Mavs to the Philadelphia 76ers, then to the Cleveland Cavaliers (where he suffered a season-ending injury 56 seconds into his debut). He finally ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent a forgettable half-season in 2017-18.

It certainly looked like the winding down of the 34-year-old’s career, at least in the NBA. He made a much-heralded return to Australia, joining the Sydney Kings in the NBL for this past season and delivered an MVL season in a league known for it’s ‘small ball’ dominance. Although he could not quite lead Sydney to the Grand Final series, his individual displays were enough to convince the Warriors to add him to their run for a fourth title in five years.

Defense and dunks

So, what does he bring to the reigning NBA champs? Well… essentially what he was giving them before he was traded. Bogut’s game hasn’t changed much in the intervening years, still very much revolving around defense and dunks.

That’s not to be sniffed at though. The Warriors are short on big bodies – the successful return from injury of DeMarcus Cousins is great, but the backup duo of Kevon Looney and Damian Jones aren’t giving opponents any sleepless nights (and Jones has been out with a torn pectoral since December).

You could argue that the Warriors could turn to their ‘Death Lineup’ and play Draymond Green at centre, but they’ll want to keep him in as good condition as possible for the games that matter.

Having Bogey and his bone-shattering screens and play-making out of the high post for 10 minutes or so per game gives the Warriors more options, and helps to keep Cousins and Green fresh. Besides, he could be a difference maker in potential playoff series against teams with traditional big men stars such as the San Antonio Spurs (LaMarcus Aldridge) or the Utah Jazz (Rudy Gobert).

A return to the Kings?

Looking ahead – would Bogut choose to stay with the Warriors if there was mutual interest to do so? While it’s anyone’s guess at this point, I’d lean towards him returning to the Kings. For one, there’s no NBA-out provisions in his contract with Sydney:

Secondly, he spoke at length about the opportunity to be a shareholder in the Kings at the media conference announcing his signing.

“While I’m playing, I won’t be in the boardroom with the big dogs, but there’s 10 percent waiting for me when I finish playing, which was negotiated, and a capacity to get to 50 percent,” he said. “That was a big part for me: I wanted skin in the game.”

Does that sound like someone who’s looking to cut bait?

Additionally, giving up potential shareholding opportunities to sign a minimum contract with the Warriors to play a bit-part role over a long 82-game (plus playoffs!) season doesn’t quite make sense. That sounds very short-sighted.

This writer is betting he comes back to the Kings for 2020. But, here’s a twist to my prediction – don’t bet against him going back to the NBA again for another cameo appearance this time next year, if Sydney is unable to go all the way again.

Winston Zhang

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A Dallas Mavericks fan since 2008, Winston is a Day 1 Luka Doncic stan.

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