Before training camp, I queried members of Warriors management about whether it would consider signing Andrew Bogut to an extension. The answer was yes, it was just followed with a but. The question hovering over Bogut was whether he could stay healthy. Golden State wanted to see that first.
Apparently, they Warriors have seen enough. The franchise has begun talks with Bogut about a contract extension, according to a report from NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper, who is in China covering the Warriors and Lakers. After watching Bogut work out since early September and go through the first couple weeks of training camp, Golden State’s ready to make an honest center out of Bogut.
There is definitely incentive for the Warriors to do something now. Golden State was in the same situation last October with point guard Stephen Curry. Signing him early came with the risk of him getting hurt again. But not signing him early came with the risk of him remaining healthy and the price skyrocketing.
The Warriors chose the former and Curry played most of the year, balling out in the playoffs. In hindsight, Golden State saved millions as Curry agreed to a four-year, $44 million extension.
But Curry is a small guard. Bogut is a 7-foot center who in his prime is one of the best five centers in the league. Big men are always highly coveted in the NBA. Ask Greg Oden. (Better believe if Andris Biedirns shows any life, he’ll get another deal.)
Bogut wouldn’t even have to have a huge year. He just has to be healthy and be a force on defense and he’ll be in line for somewhere between $13 and $18 million. (DeAndre Jordan gets $10 million per year and Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic just signed for $12 million per year). If he regains his status as a difference-maker on the level of the Roy Hibberts and Marc Gasols, $15 million a year would be easy to nab.
Bogut seems to know he has leverage, judging by his comments. He said the Warriors’ offer wasn’t “what I’m looking for.” Doesn’t sound like a guy who has totaled 44 games the last two seasons. The Warriors’ willingness to talk means the one slight against Bogut, injuries, is no longer too big of a concern for them to extend. So that knock against Bogut must have shrunk. But he doesn’t seem to be unreasonable, saying he is willing to include incentives in his contract (which jives with his comments about wanting to stay with the Warriors), which makes this the opportune window for Golden State. If they can get him at a number they like, now is the time to do it.
The fact is this, if you want a good center, you’re going to spend $10 to $20 million. And unless you have elite players on your roster, such as Miami or Oklahoma City, you need to spend that money. Those teams would probably be willing to pay good money for a center, if not for this one major problem: teams don’t let good centers go.
So if the Warriors play hardball, and Bogut walks, the question is who can they get to fill Bogut’s void? They don’t have his successor on the roster. It is a super slim chance you can go nab another center you want off someone else’s roster. You’re either going to have to overpay or take on someone who has some kind of question mark.
We’re not talking about a swingman, who you could replace with one of five options next year. Not even talking about a point guard, who while hard to get are still gettable. Centers in this NBA are like jobs in this climate: you don’t give up one unless you have another one lined up. Especially one who doesn’t mind not getting touches and content with doing the dirty work.
This is not the time for the Warriors to play around, trying to get the best bargain. If you think Bogut is healthy, that his past injuries won’t prevent him from being a difference-maker, you hammer something out and move forward.