Andrew Bogut Wants to Stay A Warrior, But Wouldn’t Mind Being Free Agent

The Andrew Bogut we rarely got to see last year was on full display today. Candid. Entertaining. Real. I usually leave the transcripts to the machine, but this one was pretty good and Tim Kawakami wasn’t there so I can let him do all the work for me.

Bogut talked about his injury, contract negotiations, Warriors’ expectations and, of course, #NBARank.

Update us on your injury

“It wasn’t anything bad. It was just precautionary. I just had a little pinch in my hip and my glutes. It wasn’t really a back spasm. The three-hour bus trip to the Great Wall and the three-hour bus trip back. After landing the night before. And going to a clinic the same afternoon. And having a dinner the same afternoon. And the next day having practice and going to another clinic. (All that) was probably a major reason. I think the off-the-court stuff kicked my (butt) more than on-the-court stuff.  I just didn’t want to push through it just in case I did something else. Forty-eight hours later, I got my treatment and I feel good.

Did you think it was bad when it first happened?

“I knew it wasn’t bad. I just felt a little pinch. If my glutes or my hip’s not working properly, or my abs, I’m going to have a back issue down the line. … On that hook, I kinda felt a little pinch. I spoke to the trainers. They knew about it before the game, it was kind of sore. They said, ‘Look, if you feel it at all during the game, it’s preseason, don’t be silly.’ And that’s what happened.”

I was wondering why you barely put up a fight when coach took you out

“It’s preseason. (laughs) To be honest, if that happens first game of the season, I’m not coming out. I have a little bit of house money to play with in the preseason. Like I said, I just didn’t want to do nothing stupid. … It’s one of those things where I didn’t want to jeopardize the regular season for a preseason game.”

Are you happy with the team’s progress?

Yeah and no. The China trip’s taken a lot out of us. It’s been a tough trip. Lot of guys are still sleeping ’til 5 in the afternoon and waking up at 2 in the morning. It is tough. But I’m kinda used to jet lag so I know how to play it. We didn’t get as much as we’d like out of that trip. We didn’t play as well as we’d liked in the first game. We had a couple average practices. Thankfully we finished off the second game pretty well. But we still have work to do. A lot of new faces. Still trying to incorporate Andre and Jermaine and Mo and Toney, make sure they know our stuff. And we obviously have some rookies again, Nedovic and Kuz, they could potentially play minutes down the track. So they need to be ready as well.

ESPN ranked you the 45th best player in the NBA

“Really? That’s pretty good considering I played on one leg. So yeah, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Can you look at the pieces on this team and project how good you guys can be?

“Yeah and no. I’ve been in that position before in Milwaukee where we had a good year my rookie year and then we signed a bunch of free agents and made some trades … on paper we looked fantastic. Unfortunately, we couldn’t print the piece of paper off and put us on the court, because we were absolutely mauled that season. So I try not to buy too much into names on the paper because I think chemistry and cohesiveness is just as important as talent. I think we have that, but we’ve still got to learn how to play with each other and its going to take a little bit of time.”

Was last year’s chemistry over-hyped or legit?

“It was legit. We had a really close team. And I think we do this season too. That’s the one positive of the china trip. Driving to the Great Wall, there’s no cell service, guys aren’t going to turn on their roaming to be on their phone the whole bus trip. So guys were forced to talk to each other. So I talked to Klay more than I’ve talked to him the last two  years.”

He talked back?

“Yeah, he actually talked. It was a great trip for that. Usually on an NBA bus, this is what you see (mimics someone with head down, looking at their cell phone) for the whole trip. It was actually nice for a change, guys got to know each other, talking about whatever. I think that’s very important. That’s probably the one positive from the trip.”

Is that something you can hold onto as the season progresses?

“I think so. Obviously our road trips are not going to be as tough as the China one. It helped. I think a lot of the teams  that have done these international preseason games, they hate the travel, it does get tough, the jet lag. But the one thing they get out of it is a head start on chemistry and cohesiveness. I’m a firm believer that if you have a locker room that’s all smiles and guys like each other, you have a better chance of winning. If you have a locker room full of (butt)holes that don’t want to get a long with each other, you’re going to have a lot of problems. You’re going to be inconsistent. So hopefully this team can stay away from that.

Is the don’t-buy-the-hype message sinking in throughout the team?

“It’s a mix. Different guys look at it different ways. I don’t look at it that way. I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist or an optimist … I’m in between both. You’ve got to be realistic. Things change in the NBA when you’re the top dog. I’ve been there in Milwaukee where we had a great year and the next year we bombed because the pressure was so high. … I’d rather be the underdog every season, to be honest. Because I think it’s better coming from the bottom and fighting our way for wins people don’t think you deserve. It’s much harder to win games when people say ‘You should win that game. You should win that game. You should win that game.’ Because those teams are coming at you as hard as possible. Some of the young guys might be buying into the ESPN articles and so on and so forth. But I don’t read into that stuff.”

Have there been any progress on the contract extension talks?

“Not right now. … I’ll leave that up to my agent from now on. It’s something that I want to get done and I want to be here. But at the same time it needs to be thing that works for both parties.”

So you don’t just write a number on a Post-it note and slide it to Bob Myers?

You’re watching too many movies, man.

Is it something you want to get done sooner rather than later?

“I would. I’d like to get it done. But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. There’s positives to both ides of it. Like I said. I love living here. I like the team and the direction of the franchise, and I want to be here. But at the same time, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry, things happen in the NBA. I don’t take anything for granted. If things don’t work out, it would be a positive. If things do, I’ll be very happy about it.”

Did you think extension talks this soon would be possible?

“I did if I came in healthy. I think I put in the work in the summer, tried to get my ankle as right as possible. Most important thing was my ankle actually got some rest so I knew coming in that I would be healthy. They sent their trainers out there, making sure I was in shape and doing everything possible so that when it comes to this point, where possible negotiations start, they’re happy with what they see. They’ve scanned me. They’ve MRI’d me. They’ve X-ray’d me. Their trainers have gone through me every centimeter of my body to make sure I’m OK. They were pretty happy with what they see. Judging by that, I knew the negotiations would start.”

Carmelo Anthony reportedly said every player wants to be a free agent at least once. You agree?

“The way bigs are getting paid, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’ll tell you that right now. Judging by Favors got a big deal. Larry Sanders and some other guys. Love them or hate them, unfortunately bigs in the league are going to get paid. If you can walk in a straight line and be 7 foot, it’s a pretty good place in the NBA. I wouldn’t say I want to be a free agent. But if it comes to that, I definitely won’t cry about it.”

And you’re ranked No. 45 on one leg

“Exactly! (laughs) … We’ll see what happens. I’m happy here and hope to stay here. But I’ve been in this league long enough not to go home, smile and put my feet on the couch. Because that next day you can get a phone call that changes everything.”

Can guys on this team handle the pressure they’re about to experience?

“It’s going to be a shock to some because it’s a different mindset. I think guys have all played in big games throughout our careers, so we can handle it. … We’re getting to that stage when people nationally are starting to notice us. So it’s a different mindset. I think you’ve got to go into games knowing teams are going to come in, especially early on the season, to see ‘Are these guys for real or are they just flirting round with being a top dog?’ So we have our work to do the first month of the season.”

Marcus Thompson