Let’s say, for conversation’s sake, that Andrew Bogut won’t be ready for the season-opener on Oct. 31.
Bogut is expected to be ready, though his training camp debut may be delayed. But for the off chance Bogut’s sprained left ankle isn’t completely healed, who starts at center for the Warriors?
“I would certainly love to have Andrew Bogut as my starting 5,” coach Mark Jackson said, “but I feel comfortable with what Festus (Ezeli) can do for us. He’s going to have to earn it, but he’s done everything that I’ve asked him to do. And he wants it. I don’t have to guess whether he’s committed to this thing, whether he buys in, or whether he’s saving some chips. He’s all-in and it’s good to see. Because that’s what you build winning teams around, guys that have that attitude.”
In Wednesday’s pre-training camp sit down with local media, you didn’t have to read between the lines too much to know how Jackson felt about Biedrins. The veteran center is the only player on the roster not working out daily at the team’s facility.
Biedrins is never in Oakland early. After spending much of the offseason in his nativeLatvia, he usually prepares for training camp in Southern California. ButJackson, bent on changing the expectations of this team, clearly favors those who made the sacrifice to be with the team. A sacrifice Ezeli, the rookie first-round pick, has made.
“I’m awfully impressed with Festus and what he’s done from the moment we drafted him. He’s been here all summer. He continues to work his tail off and he’s even gotten better. He’s certainly made a statement by being here. That hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Jackson did say he recognized it was a long year for Biedrins. And he said Biedrins will have every opportunity to earn the No.2 center spot. And he said he wouldn’t be surprised if Biedrins came to camp and established himself as a reliable defender.
But it was clear Ezeli has the leg up. Biedrins’ absence leaves Jackson questioning the $9 million center’s commitment.
“I think you make a statement by being here, and everybody that’s been here… the young guys, all summer… and everybody else for a month now, certainly makes a statement. It wouldn’t be fair to them if they’ve put all this money in the bank by showing up, that it doesn’t mean anything to me. It means something. Now, conversely, if you’re not here, you’d better be getting it done somewhere. And you better come here making a statement that you’ve done it.”