Andrew Bogut’s fresh start

Andrew Bogut is prepared for a new chapter in his basketball journey.

The painful memories of his NBA Finals loss, the knee injury he sustained, and leaving the Olympics without a medal, are now just those. Memories. Bogut isn’t one to wander off into thoughts of what could have been. Instead, he moves on and readies himself for whatever comes next.

Bogut's new beginning has begun in his new role as a Goalrilla ambassador. Hanging off a Goalrilla in-ground basketball system and shooting on the new Goaliath GoTEK portable system at a photo shoot, Bogut reminisced on the challenges of finding a hoop to play on growing up.

“Playing basketball growing up in Melbourne, it was always an issue with me, finding hoops,” Bogut said.

“Once I was old enough to get up and dunk when lowering the rims, there was always an issue with breaking the rim or bending it and whatnot. My old man would always try to better or fix the ones that I broke, and these ones [Goalrilla rings] are a little better quality I’d say.

“Just hanging on them now, they don’t move around a lot and if a guy like me can hang on these, a kid at 13-14 can lower it and try to do dunks. It’s good you have the option to do that without it breaking.”

Goalrilla isn’t the only element of Bogut’s fresh start.

Bogut isn’t going to be helping the Golden State Warriors achieve success with their shiny new super team. Instead, he is going to try to bring them down.

“I was used to getting Klay [Thompson] and Steph [Curry] open, and this time I’m going to try to get them with some tough screens and get our guys open,” explained Bogut.

Before Bogut can salivate in the competitive nature that’s sure to arise once he puts on a Dallas Mavericks uniform, he needs to get his knee right. Despite playing in the Olympics, the bone bruises that Bogut suffered to his proximal tibia and distal femur, still aren’t fully healed. While Bogut hopes he can participate in a full training camp, which begins in less than two weeks, he understands the precautionary measures that need to be taken.

“I took 10 days off after the Olympics and I just started working out again, it feels pretty good,” Bogut said of his knee.

“Once the load lifts up in Dallas with contact and all that, we’ll see how it goes. Obviously we’ll be smart with it, they’ll be smart with it. There’s no point trying to win a championship in October. So, we want to make sure you get to 100% at the end of October, start of November, and do it from there.”

Having a seven-footer in his 30s who boasts an injury riddled past, is always a cause for concern for NBA teams. For this reason, Bogut knows his preseason will be monitored, even if his knee was fully recovered.

“I’m almost 32 years old, going into my 12th year in the league, so usually coaches and organisations are pretty smart with having guys that have double-digit years, just monitoring them and being smart,” Bogut said.

"Being open with the coaching staff and saying, hey I’m a little sore today I might need to go a bit lighter, or, if you’re feeling good you go through the whole thing. I don’t anticipate older guys, even Dirk [Nowitzki] and guys like that, to be going through every session, every minute of the day.”

Even with adjusted preseason preparations, the Bogut/Nowitzki partnership is intriguing.

Nowitzki’s unique, but beautiful, offensive game has been more consistent in Dallas than a Tony Romo injury. Now paired with Bogut’s passing and play making ability, the Aussie is set to make things easier in all facets for the 38-year old German.

“I’ll take some pressure off him on the defensive end especially and just try to help him as much as I can,” Bogut said.

“Obviously, we need him on the court as much as possible, with the way he shoots the ball. I just need to make sure he is protected down there. Teams try to get physical with him because he is a bit of an older guy; [I] just need to be down there and protect him and maybe take a couple of hits that he doesn’t need to take. At the offensive end, just trying to free him up and keep the defense honest. Setting good screens for him and trying to create mismatches for him.”

Bogut is keen to meet his new team-mate and future Hall of Famer in person.

“Yeah, just a team group chat,” Bogut said, when asked if Nowitzki has communicated with him since he was traded to Dallas.

"He welcomed us all and I think it’s probably better to meet him in person first and have that kind of chat before we have a relationship via text message. He welcomed myself and Harrison [Barnes] to the team, and a couple of other guys that got into the team. I’m looking forward to it, he is a great bloke.”

Bogut’s role on offense was subdued in Golden State. In a team with the scoring prowess of Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, it was only natural Bogut wasn’t going to play a huge part. In the Olympics however, we saw how much of an offensive difference maker Bogut can be, when afforded time with the ball. With the Mavericks, expect a similar role from Bogut, as he is set to be a key cog in coach Rick Carlisle’s offensive machine.

“I’ve spoken to Coach Carlisle a couple of times,” Bogut said.

“We’re excited and he is demanding a lot more from me than what I was showing in Golden State. He has kind of put that pressure on me to try to find that form I had in Milwaukee.”

Bogut and Carlisle are also both outspoken individuals, which should remove any growing pains between the two.

“He is a straight to the point guy from what I’ve dealt with him so far, which is awesome,” Bogut said.

"There’s no sugar coating things or trying to tell you something politically correct, he’s just going to tell you how it is and then you adapt to it. I respect that a lot and I’m looking forward to it.”

Even though Bogut and Carlisle aren’t afraid to share their opinion, Mavs owner Mark Cuban, is the most boisterous of the bunch. Whether it is blasting the media on ESPN, appearing in a WWE ring or paying up another fine after belittling the referees, Cuban has never been shy about his thoughts. There is a reason, though, Cuban is loved by his team and has a net worth of 3.3 billion dollars – just 1.5 billion dollars less than presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Despite not even suiting up in Dallas just yet, Bogut spoke glowingly about his new owner, especially after he allowed him to represent Australia in the Olympics.

“He has been sensational,” Bogut said of Cuban.

“We’ve been in touch a fair bit via text. They really helped me out through the national team stuff when we thought the release wasn’t going to happen to let me play in the Olympics because of the knee, but they were open and honest and the communication was great.

“They really went out on a limb to allow me to play. Their docs hadn’t seen me or their physios, or their trainers, and they went by my word of saying hey, my knee feels pretty good, I’m going to give it a shot. I really respect that and Mark’s obviously a very powerful man in the business world in America, so I’m looking forward to getting some tips and hints from him.”

If Bogut didn’t have enough reasons to be eager to get the new season started, Barnes is another one. Barnes has received plenty of criticism over the offseason following his $94 million dollar contract with the Mavericks, with many citing his underachievement across his first four seasons. Bogut remains confident in the former seventh overall pick, though.

“People forget he is in his low to mid 20’s,” Bogut said.

“I know how hard he works in the gym, I see him in there every day. He isn’t a partier and a guy who is out at clubs at 4, 5am, so he’ll have a very long career as long as he wants to play and I think he is, utmost professional. You don’t see guys his age with that level of professionalism. He really takes the game seriously and prepares himself in the best possible way.

“People are always going to have gripes with contracts and this and that, but he has definitely earned it. He played a lesser role in Golden State too. If he were on a lesser team, he probably would have gotten more shots and put up bigger and better numbers. A lot of us did that in Golden State and Harrison deserves everything he got. His ceiling is nowhere near reached.”

While Bogut admitted it would have been nice to win back-to-back championships with the Warriors last season, he isn’t remaining melancholy on it.

“There were a lot of things that happened in that series,” Bogut said.

“For the most part, I don’t look at it as a disappointment because I couldn’t control what happened. The injury was a rare occurrence, like most of my injuries, and I can’t really dwell on that too much. That’s the reality of the NBA, it’s a business, everyone moves on.

“I’m excited to be in Dallas.”

Let the new chapter of Bogut begin.