Posts Tagged ‘Sam Bowie’

Bad Back Again Raises Questions Of Bogut’s Durability

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.

High Pick, Hard Luck

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The yellow brick NBA road is littered with names of should-have-been legends that never got the chance to realize their potential due to injury.

It’s a cruel-but-timeless tradition, whereby a supremely talented individual sees his career either curtailed or ended altogether due to an injury that no one planned on.

We’ve already seen Greg Oden‘s season end due to a recurring injury (knee). And then there’s yesterday’s news that Yao Ming (ankle) would join him in the street-clothes brigade for the foreseeable future (he is technically out “indefinitely,” but you don’t need a translator to know his season is over).

This Yao development generated an interesting discussion here at the hideout pertaining to high picks who have had their careers derailed by injuries. In the interest of the here and now, we’ll leave yesteryear alone and excuse elders like Bernard King, Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Ralph Sampson and HT All-Time fave Andrew Toney, just to name a few.

We’ll even excuse more recent stars like Penny Hardaway, a legend in the making before injuries robbed him of his best years.

We’re going to go with just the top 10 injury-curtailed/derailed careers since the 2000 NBA draft, based on draft position:

Oden’s Next Step

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Greg Oden‘s season is over in Portland.

It might be time for the whole experiment to come to an end.

The news came late Wednesday night via Twitter first (where else would it come from these days?). Another microfracture surgery scheduled for Friday morning, it ought to be the 13th for Trail Blazers fans, Oden and the organization that cheered his arrival four years ago like the championship banner was strictly a matter of when and not if.

We’re talking about a 22-year-old behemoth with three season-ending knee surgeries in four years people — THREE in FOUR YEARS. Let that marinate for a second and then realize what a devastating blow this has to be to all involved.

The recovery time for microfracture surgery is anywhere from six to 12 months. That means Oden’s next step might not come until January of 2012 or later. He’s done in Portland. And I know the organization will stick by him through his rehabilitation, as they should. But beyond that, they owe him nothing.

They’ve paid him close to $20 million for a grand total of 82 games of actual work. The rest of the time he’s spent in the training and operating room. That’s just the facts.

If you invest $20 million in a project in the business world and it goes awry, you don’t keep pouring money into the project. You cut your losses and move on to the next venture.

Oden will get another shot at this. If Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic all got second, third and even fourth chances, Oden will play basketball for someone in the NBA if he wants to. That much is up to him.

But the Trail Blazers have to move on. Trying to patch up the gentle giant and march him out there in those Rip City colors one more time is a scene we have no interest in viewing.

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Oden On Schedule For What?

Greg Oden said his rehab is right on schedule. Trail Blazers general manager Rich Cho said there’s no timetable for the center’s return.

Is it possible both are holding something back? Well, when it comes to the star-crossed and injury-wrought career of the former No. 1 pick, it’s probably smart to avoid details and proceed on the side of vagueness.

It’s been three years since Portland took Oden to lead off the 2007 Draft, but the Ohio State product has played in just the last two seasons. During that time he’s managed the equivalent of one full campaign (82 total games) as injuries, mostly to his knees, continue to sideline the 7-footer.

The latest was a fractured left patella suffered last December, which has Oden’s availability for the start of this season in serious question. At a charity bowling tournament Saturday in Vancouver, Oden told the Portland Oregonian he’s on schedule:

“The doctors tell me I’m on time. We’re going at a pace that they’ve got for me. Things are looking pretty good.”

It’s just that he didn’t reveal what exactly the schedule was. The Blazers open the season Oct. 26 against Phoenix.

The recently hired Cho was equally non-committal in an interview with the Oregonian last week:

“I don’t really want to put any time frame on it. I don’t want any expectations out there. And I don’t want to put any pressure on Greg. The last thing I want him to do is come back earlier (than he should) because people are expecting it.”

Cho did add that Oden’s rehab has included some light basketball activities and other cardio-related drills, and he’s lost some weight. The team, Cho continued, is pleased with Oden’s progress.

While it’s still much too early to give up on 22-year-old Oden, the clock has to ticking. Is he destined to be plagued by injuries? Folks in great town of Portland loathe mentioning one-time promising center Sam Bowie and Oden in the same breath, rightly pointing out that the injuries of Bowie have nothing to do with Oden’s maladies.

This is a crucial season for Oden, who’s going into the last year of his rookie contract. The team has rights to Oden going forward under the current CBA, but we don’t know what a new agreement will bring. Whether they admit it or not, this has to be an uncertain time for both sides regarding Oden’s career, especially with a possible lockout looming.

Oden’s first order of business has to be getting healthy and, by all accounts, he seems to be on his way. Just don’t ask how far along.