It’s only a matter of time, sadly, before someone – either mistakenly or pointedly – refers to Golden State’s ailing Australian center as “Sam Bogut.”
As in Sam Bowie, as in the NBA big man whose career is defined more by his draft position and a series of hobbling leg injuries than the 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds he averaged across 511 games and 10 seasons.
There was no Michael Jordan in the 2005 draft that saw Andrew Bogut selected as the No. 1 pick overall, but there was Chris Paul (No. 4). And Deron Williams (No. 3). And, deeper in, guys like Danny Granger (No. 17), David Lee (No. 30), Ersan Ilyasova (No. 36) and Monta Ellis (No. 40).
Bogut’s production in eight NBA seasons has surprassed Bowie’s – but not by all that much (12.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg). And in durability, the 7-foot native of Melbourne has only the slightest of edges: 52.5 appearances per season to Bowie’s 51.1.
So if 80 percent of life is showing up, as Woody Allen said long ago, then Bogut is putting the “aww” in Aussie the same way Bowie put the blue in Kentucky bluegrass.
The latest setback in Bogut’s injury-riddled career came Friday, when he was termed “out indefinitely” with back spasms and missed Golden State’s home overtime victory against San Antonio. The spasms in Bogut’s mid-back area began after he played in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time in 13 months. After playing 15 unproductive minutes at Utah in the front end, he lasted 29 minutes back home against Phoenix, contributing seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
By Friday morning, though, he was getting an MRI – something with which he and his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, became all too familiar when Bogut missed more than half the 2008-09 season with a back stress fracture. He had minor back issues in 2009-10 and again last season.
Bogut’s inability to get and stay on the court, brutally frustrating to him, already has swamped his NBA resume and reputation. From the back issues to the gruesome arm and wrist injuries he suffered in an April 2010 fall to last season’s microfracture ankle surgery, he missed 126 of 534 with Milwaukee, 106 of those in his last three-plus seasons there. Since going to Golden State last March with Stephen Jackson in the trade for Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, Bogut has played just 12 times in 82 games.
His contributions have been meager this season, his challenge in assimilating to the Warriors’ system – and teammates to him – considerable; Golden State was 6-6 in Bogut’s 12 games vs. 26-17 without him.
And as this season’s trade deadline passed Thursday, there was ominous talk that, by the same time next season, Bogut’s greatest contribution to Golden State might be his $14 million expiring contract.
It’s a shame, because Bogut had stretches of true dominance with the Bucks and was headed toward an All-Star breakthrough when he got nudged from behind by Amar’e Stoudemire late in 2009-10 – that was Milwaukee’s “Fear The Deer” year – and landed all wrong. He never regained that form, never stayed on the floor long enough to get there, and at 28 might be too risky for teams to consider at top dollar.
Speaking of dollars, it’s worth comparing the cost of Bogut’s output with Ellis’ since the trade in which they were the principal players. Since the deal on March 13, 2012, Bogut has scored 85 points for the Warriors, grabbed 78 rebounds, dished 28 assists, had four steals, blocked 19 shots and played 270 minutes. Ellis has scored 1,340 points, grabbed 278 rebounds, had 416 assists, picked 128 steals, blocked 33 shots and logged 2,722 minutes.
Break that down according to each man’s current annual salary – Bogut at $13 million, Ellis at $11 million – and the Bucks’ bargain in that GM John Hammond-engineered trade looks overwhelming.
Golden State’s cost per stat: $152,941 per point, $166,667 per rebound, $464,286 per assist, $3.25 million per steal, $684,210 per block and $48,148 per minute.
Milwaukee’s cost for Ellis: $8,209 per point, $39,568 per rebound, $26,442 per assist, $85,938 per steal, $333,333 per block and $4,041 per minute.
That’s value that Bucks owner Herb Kohl has to be pleased about. And costs that has to have the Warriors wondering with Bogut’s latest veer into the trainer’s room.