Poole: With Bogut, Warriors are championship contender
Center Andrew Bogut played just 32 games last season, averaging 5.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. (AP IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- The Golden State Warriors are banking on Andrew Bogut's future in the Bay Area.
The Warriors and the often-injured center agreed to a contract extension Friday, a day after the team finished the preseason. A person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press it was for three years and $36 million and could be worth up to about $42 million with incentives.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms had not been publicly disclosed. Bogut's contract was set to expire after this season.
"We put a lot of money into believing he's going to be healthy," general manager Bob Myers said. "In this business, you're taking risks on players, whether they stay healthy or not. We used all our analysis, all the things we knew, all the information that was at hand with us to make the decision we did.
"Size is a scarcity in the NBA, and we felt like this was somebody we needed to have going forward to be a successful NBA basketball team. He's a big piece of our recent and past success and hopefully future success. So for us, we were willing to take that risk, and we think it's a good one."
The Warriors acquired Bogut in a trade-deadline deal in March 2012 that sent guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee. Bogut did not play for Golden State that season while recovering from a fractured left ankle.
The 7-footer from Australia missed 50 of 82 games last season, mostly because of soreness in his surgically repaired ankle. He also battled back and knee injuries while averaging a career-low 5.8 points to go with 7.7 rebounds, but he was at his best in the playoffs, making a major difference on defense to help the Warriors get to the second round.
Myers, Bogut and Bogut's agent, David Bauman, spoke generally in May about an extension and agreed to revisit talks more seriously this October. Bogut said he gave the Warriors a Friday deadline to get a deal done because he didn't want negotiations to drag into the regular season, which begins Wednesday night at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I was never a greedy guy that was going to come and say, `Pay me X or I'm walking or pay me X or I'm going to free agency,'" Bogut said. "I think I'm realistic about the injuries that I've had and the tough times that I've had with the organization and the pressure that they've faced with fans for making the trade. It was one of those things where we came to common ground and I was happy. I could've easily said, `I'll wait till the offseason and easily make more money in the long run' and have someone just chasing you. But I'm happy with my deal right now."
When Bogut has played, he has played well. He has career averages of 12.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.58 blocks in 440 regular-season games over eight seasons.
Staying healthy enough to play, though, has been a constant battle since Milwaukee made him the No. 1 overall pick out of Utah in the 2005 draft.
Bogut took anti-inflammatory injections just to stay on the court in the playoffs last season, but he showed up in the biggest moments despite his limitations.
He had 21 rebounds, 14 points, four blocks and three assists in the Game 6 clincher against Denver in the first round. He also fought through pain until the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs sent the Warriors home in six games in the second round.
Bogut missed the end of the 2009-10 season with Milwaukee when he dislocated his right elbow, sprained his right wrist and broke his right hand in a hard fall to the floor. He also missed significant time with an injured lower back in the 2008-09 season.
Bogut has repeatedly called the injuries "freak accidents," but the setbacks have taken a toll, physically and mentally. At one point while rehabbing his ankle most of last season, Bogut said he was in a "dark place" and even considered retirement.
Instead, Golden State's surprising playoffs - and his role in it - left him rejuvenated. He lost about 15 pounds this offseason, showing up in training camp in great shape.
"Just kind of surreal," Bogut said. "Just kind of thinking about coming to the NBA as a kid was a dream, it wasn't reality. To be extended now ... it's an unbelievable feeling."