Carl Steward here, filling in for Marcus Thompson today …
Admit it, Warriors fan, you’re starting to get impatient and maybe a little steamed about this Andrew Bogut situation. Did the Warriors get a lemon for Monta Ellis, one they’ll never see squeezed of its once-formidable talent on the court? Bogut played in four of the first games this season after spending the past five months since the Warriors acquired him rehabbing his surgically reconstructed left ankle. Things looked promising. But now he’s missed nine straight games, is assured of missing the next two, and could miss at least a few more after that.
“It’s still sore and it’s just not right yet,” Bogut said Tuesday. “When I try to train for extended periods, it just doesn’t respond well. Until I can get through a week’s worth of full practices, I’m back to where I am now.”
Which is rehabbing on the treadmill and exercise bike, doing some very light running and some touch shooting. None of the aggressive stuff he is known for. He can’t practice yet, let alone play, and if this sounds like a novel going bad, you can’t be blamed for your pessimism.
Bogut says he’ll be out there when it’s right, and the Warriors aren’t pressuring him. But it’s reasonable to wonder: After what the club went through with Stephen Curry last season, will it ever be right enough this year for Bogut to make a significant impact?
It’s frustrating, to be sure, but the Warriors had to know when they acquired Bogut they were getting some measure of damaged goods. Yet, to them, it was worth the risk to acquire an impact center if they could somehow fix this ankle problem. And there may be a happy ending before it’s all said and done. First, the Warriors haven’t been unduly stressed by Bogut being out. They’re 8-6, tied atop in the Pacific Division, and with the Warriors, anything over .500 is like grazing in clover. Second, they have the example of Curry to know that eventually, this should come around. Knock on wood, Curry hasn’t had any ankle issues this season after looking last season like he may have a chronic problem with serious sprains.
Dr. Richard Ferkel, who performed reconstructive surgery on Curry, also did Bogut’s procedure. And with big men, these things always take longer. And ankles in general take time. Take it from an ex-hoopster who sprained both ankles many times over in his day.
Fans may shudder in horror at the thought, but if Bogut isn’t ready by midseason, it wouldn’t be that dramatic from this view. Just get the guy right. Don’t push him. You’ve got Andris Biedrins and rookie Festus Ezeli, so at least you have some bigs to take up space, and David Lee can always handle the position some in crunch time. If Bogut isn’t 100 percent by midseason, then maybe you have a problem. But for now, the Warriors aren’t going to have mismatches in the post that often. Not that many teams have elite big men, so Golden State can get by.
To make a playoff push, Bogut eventually will have be a factor. But it’s a long season, and we’re just 14 games into it. As long as the Warriors don’t start losing touch with the top eight in the Western Conference, there’s no reason to get too filled with angst. Get riled up after 30-40 games and we’re still twiddling in the same situation, listening to talk of rehabs and blood injections.
If the Warriors had a chance to trade back for Ellis, it’s not likely they’d do it. They know what’s at stake — to get to the playoffs, to be a player in the West, they need a solid all-around center, and Bogut was the best they were going to get. That they’ve done so well without him is admirable. So bite your lip, hold your tongue, calm your nerves and try to be patient. It’s a bit like trying to tell an 8-year-old you’re still three hours from Disneyland — a bit fruitless — but that’s where it’s at.
I can recall the days when the Warriors traded for Ralph Sampson. Anticipation was high for his arrival, until it was quickly realized once he took the court that his knees were shot. He played OK, but he wasn’t the Sampson of his Houston days and never would be. Bogut, by all indications, doesn’t have an injury that won’t heal. Unlike knees, ankles do get better.