It Seems Rookie Festus Ezeli is Front-Runner to Back-up Andrew Bogut

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.”

Marcus Thompson

  • zgoddbap

    If Jackson is just now questioning Biedrins’ commitment, he really doesn’t know his players very well.

  • Grey Warden

    It’s clear to everybody that Biedrins is comfortable as a bench warmer and collecting his paycheck while doing the minimum amount of work possible. Biedrins better save up that money he’s collecting now, because once his contract runs out, he’ll be lucky to even get the veteran’s minimum contract.

  • Wil


  • Ewok

    Biedrins has become a welfare player, collecting all that money as his entitlement without even trying to improve his credentials..

    The day Biedrins leaves the team, we get to use 9 million dollars to lure an elite player.. and that might just be that one player we are all waiting for…

    Gosh! This team is set except for this one regressing, degenerating stiff!

  • PhillyJ

    Could you blame Biedrins for not wanting to be in Oakland? :)sorry, low blow.

  • Holy Toledo

    STFU, Phillyj, it’s not a “low blow,” it’s typical and full of it. Um, haha, good one?

    As for AB, all one can do is shake their head. What a promising young dude 7 years ago. Came to the US, was likeable, hard working, cared, talented.

    Something either in the US or through having tons of money…or i just don’t know, who knows….affected Andris.

    Wild speculation aside, i’ll wildly speculate (on a board made for such things.) Could AB, and players who similarly just fall off out of nowhere, be dealing with some deep personal issues, that at some point in their private lives while playing, all of a sudden got to them? You know, from their past, childhood? I hate to go there, but the way in which Andris just lost it (you could see the young kid in a new land turn to Mr trying to be cool, getting attracted to a shallow lifestyle) makes me think either he’s just not bright or somebody did something to him as a kid or something.

    Sorry. Either AB doesn’t care, money changed him, or something is Fing with him. How do you just go that backwards talent-wise entering your prime, healthy? And then how do you turn down offers to help your game where it needs it most from a HOF who played for your organization? And if ABs FTs improved, his whole game and outlook does!

    Sucks for us.

  • Niners in 2012

    They’ve made good moves recently but not amnestying that Biedrins bum was the worst move.

  • The City

    Biedrins is like corporate welfare – those big corporations that line up at the governments teat, but would lose their shirts if they had to really compete in the free market.

  • Rob

    Holy Toledo, I’m as perplexed as you are about AB and I believe that it is psychological as well. He was on course to be a very fine center in this league. By all accounts he was a hard worker and was motivated. However, then his ft woes got worse instead of better, it affected his whole game(especially on offense), to such a degree that he didn’t even want to touch the ball. He also had a bad hip/groin injury that really affected his play. I think he got severely shamed by the whole thing and went into a shell, instead of working harder to get out of it. Too bad. Hopefully he hasn’t given up and can work his way out of it. We’ll see.

  • Jet_BlackBeard

    @7 Niners, I agree that it was one of the worst decisions recently. And it was Larry Riley move.

    I think that, plus getting rid of JLin, was what got him demoted, and BobM promoted.

    In that light, it turned out good for us Warriors Fans (in that we got a much better GM).

  • noma_pride

    Dear Beans: We love underdogs here in the Bay Area, even if they have fallen from grace inexplicably. You have nothing to lose: no one expects you to contribute anything of value. If Zito can do it, so can you.

  • Grey Warden

    #9 Rob,

    I believe there was an article some time ago with Biedrins saying he saw some former players who couldn’t walk, were in pain if they did, etc, and that affected him. He said something along the lines of him not wanting to end up like that later on in life. That’s probably why he gives the minimum amount of effort possible, and why he always sits out games whenever some body part is bothering him. I really think Biedrins isn’t motivated to play basketball anymore.

  • Rob

    Grey, We’re left to speculate as to what happened. Bottom line is that the fire and enthusiasm that was there is now gone. Can he regain it? Who knows. Does he want to regain it? Who knows. There are a lot of question marks with this team: injuries, rookies, 2nd year players, coaching, chemistry, deep bench, motivation (ab). I’m excited about this team but there are a lot of questions that need answering. If all the uncertainty cards fall our way then it should be a very good team, including our center position, which COULD turn out to be a major strength IF……

  • Ewok

    Biedrins is a welfare player…

    Not that i see anything wrong being on welfare in the society per se as there are people really in need of help, but this guy is on welfare to the tune of 9 million each year for two years…

    I believe he is from Latvia, was a former socialist country that promoted welfare. I guess AB truly knows this scehme..

  • Biedrins? If you all really think that way, then just pretend he is not on the team. Do that, and we are still above the salary cap. So CHILL.

    I really like what Coach Jackson says about showing up when its not required. If coach get players to play with their hearts and the asst coaches get players to play with their minds, the Warriors have a decent chance for making the playoffs.

    Problem is, so far I do not trust Coach Jackson at all. Oakland and Jackson’s had a bad start last year with Hugh. Why would we do the same thing and expect a different result? Jackson v. 2.0 is on the hot seat.

    Biggest issue, HEAD COACH. Smallest issue, 3RD STRING CENTER. Get over it. lol.

  • commish

    AB quit on his team and himself after he had his “sports hernia”. After his injury, and his extension, he was toast. What a waste of money, but by the trade deadline, he may have some value and be moved. Good riddance.

  • I have heard that Biedrins constantly plays with pain that could be due to the sports hernia.

  • Reybuenabal

    Jackson just started last year with players injured. How can you continue to criticize him when you know he did not have Udoh, Ellis and missed Lee/Curry for some time?There is no reason to do this unless you are the type who loves to critic everyone by habit. Biedrins has gone bad, but he may return to old form like he said. Yet you continue to crucify him and speak of good riddance. What do you expect he’ll say when ask the same question they asked last year? Of course, he’ll say the same thing, but he may be better now than last year. GSW cannot afford to get rid of him. His contract is good for two more years. We already have Bogut, so Biedrins as a back up maybe just right. Be optimistic, it’s more fun to be.

  • Gary

    Not really sure why we’re even discussing Biedrins. Biggest mistake of new regime was not to amnesty him. Forget him. Cut him. Eat the contract. Eat the cap space. Give the roster spot to someone like Dominic McQuire if he isn’t already on a roster.

    As for Barnes, I don’t care about his summer league performance as we’ve had a bunch of summer league superstars (Bellinelli, Randolph, etc) that were regular season duds.

    If you go take a good look at his combine numbers on NBAdraft, it turns out that Harrison was one of the fastest and most athletic players in the draft. He’s just one of those guys who doesn’t look like he’s hustling because he’s so smooth. He’s bigger, stronger, younger, and more athletic than the other options and having him on the floor will create more open shots for Clay and Steph if he can hold his own defensively against the most athletic position in the NBA.