Just when you thought there were no more deals to be made, that free agency was dead and buried, the Lakers front offices sticks their hand out the gave like Beatrix Kiddo and make another move by signing former Warrior (and Maverick and, most recently, Cavalier) Andrew Bogut.
But wait, there’s more.
Look, if you’re looking for reasons for the Lakers to sign Bogut, plenty of those exist. First, Bogut has a history with Luke Walton. He was the team’s starting center on back to back Finals teams for the Warriors when Walton was an assistant coach. The Warriors may have even won that second trip if Bogut hadn’t gotten injured (and if Draymond Green hadn’t had an affinity to hitting opponents below the belt).
Bogut is also a defensive anchor type, is an excellent passer, and, by all (most? some?) accounts, is a good teammate even if he can be outspoken and a serial truth (or at least his version of it) teller. Those former two things matter. A lot.
Especially to this Lakers’ team severely lacking in players who have defensive know how and the ability to communicate on the back line. Add in his passing chops, his screen setting (which can border on dirty and can certainly cross the line from legal to not), and his general willingness to do all the little things offensively that get exactly zero glory and you have the makings of a guy who can, in the right situation, be useful.
Now, of course, that’s a lot of qualifiers. And those are needed. Because if you’re looking for reasons why the Lakers maybe shouldn’t have made this deal, there’s plenty of those too.
First, is health. Bogut ended his brief run with the Cavaliers when he suffered a broken leg. But that was the 2nd straight season his year ended with a leg injury and, over the course of his career, he’s simply had bad injury luck. Whether you want to call him injury prone or not, he’s simply not always been available for games due to various, sometimes very serious, injuries.
Second, it’s fair to wonder how much Bogut has left as a player at this point. He’s entering his 13th season in the NBA and is 32 years old. Now, 32 isn’t necessarily old and, while the injuries can be a negative, in this case they’ve kept him off the floor for so many games it’s not like he has as many miles on his body as his experience level would imply. Still, though, as the game has become faster and more up and down, the level of contribution Bogut can provide on the court is a real question. So, maybe rephrasing this as how much he has left as a player to contribute into today’s NBA is better.
This is where re-reading Shelburne’s tweet should give you pause. Because, in an ideal world, Bogut would not be looked at as some core piece or a big part of their plans, but instead as an insurance policy big man who can play spot minutes in a pinch or serve as a mentor to some of the team’s young players. Maybe that’s what ends up happening anyway. But if it doesn’t…
Lastly, a crowded Lakers’ front-court just got even more so. Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr., Kyle Kuzma, Luol Deng, Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant. These are all players who should spend the majority of their minutes at either Center or Power Forward. Now you can add Bogut to that group. How you divide up the 96 available minutes between all of the above players at those two spots is an unknown. Clearly some of them will not play. Bryant, for example, is likely to be with the South Bay Lakers for most of the year.
Still, though, I was already trying to figure out how to get Kuzma minutes at PF this season and, to make that happen, sliding Randle and Nance up to C for significant stretches behind Lopez. Now, if Bogut takes some of those minutes, that is going to impact the remaining PF’s on the roster simply because a way to get them burn was to get creative by sliding them up to C.
In saying all that, though, Bogut is the type of veteran player the Lakers clearly want more of and so they signed him to a partially guaranteed minimum level (it’s all they have to offer) contract. The money he’s set to make and the things he can still contribute at make him a potentially good signing who can be a value add. However, the question marks that come with him via health and remaining game, plus the potential negative lineup implications give me pause.
We’ll see how this plays out in training camp and preseason. But things just got more interesting in El Segundo. If nothing else, media day will have more quotables than they projected to yesterday