Aussies in NBA: The rollercoaster ride that was Andrew Bogut's season
Chances are, you weren't expecting to read a season review piece for Andrew Bogut in late March, with the regular season still going on. I certainly didn't expect to be writing one. Yet, here we are.
Just looking at the titles of the Bogey articles we've written here on PnR over the course of the season tells the sad story. It started with fanfare and emojis with 'Bogut in Dallas is 💯' but then ended sadly with 'Bogut suffers fractured left tibia in Cavs debut' and 'Bogut to be waived?'. We began the year wondering how much his stats would be improved by being in a bigger role with more minutes on a playoff-chasing team, before finishing with lamentations of another injury-enforced layoff in a career filled with them.
Bogut began the year by being salary-dumped to the Mavs after Kevin Durant agreed to sign with the Golden State Warriors, but it was hardly a bad move for him. The Mavs had a hole at center which looked tailor-made for Bogut, had reloaded by signing his fellow ex-Warrior Harrison Barnes, and were gunning for the playoffs again.
On paper, with Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, and Wesley Matthews the other starters, this was a veteran-led team hoping to get to the second round of the playoffs.
Things didn't quite pan out that way, of course.
A terrible start to the season for the Mavs and compatibility issues in the frontcourt eventually led to Bogut, on his own insistence, being dropped from the starting lineup. He also had his fair share of niggling injuries that meant that he ended up only playing 26 games for the franchise, which seemed to be distressing his trade value for a time there.
It turned out it didn't, and whether by magic or sheer incompetence on the part of Philadelphia 76ers GM Bryan Colangelo, Bogues found himself traded to Philly in a deal that netted the Mavs Nerlens Noel. It was clear the moment the trade was finalized that Bogey would be playing no part in The Process, and Philly waived him soon after.
Cue the straight-out-of-Hollywood signing with the Cavs, and the prospect of a much-anticipated rematch with his old team in the Finals. That got canceled so fast I didn't even have time to be disappointed.
All in all, it's safe to say that the 2016-17 season won't be one that Bogut will look back very fondly on. It's not the worst one (at least he didn't wreck his elbow), but it was definitely a damp squib.
The question now is, where next for the veteran big man? It's clear he's looking to be in winning situations where he can compete for a ring from now on. It's veteran-minimum contracts the rest of the way, and I don't think he'd mind that much.
In this renaissance of Australian basketball in the NBA, Bogut sticks out as the lone vet on the downswing. I think he deserves a happy ending to his career for all his efforts in being the top Aussie representative for the past 10+ years, so, like I said before in our mid-season roundtable, I'd love for him to end up on the San Antonio Spurs. Model franchise, guaranteed for 50 wins and a fighting chance of making the Finals every year, Patty Mills as a teammate... what's not to love?
Of course, there's no guarantee this happens. The Spurs are likely to be high on Bogut's list of destinations, but that doesn't mean the Spurs have him high on their shortlist. But wherever he goes, it's sure to be a winning situation, and I think that's all we can really hope for good ol' Bogues right now.
For now, here's wishing The Bogeyman a swift and successful recovery from his broken tibia, and I'll always remember his time in Dallas fondly with this trademark example of Aussie hustle and effectiveness.