Bucks’ Bogut to miss at least eight weeks
Now, it’s Andrew Bogut.
The Milwaukee Bucks were battered with another wave of devastating news Wednesday when they learned that Bogut would be lost for a minimum of eight weeks with an incomplete stress fracture in his lower back.
Bogut’s injury is not being termed season-ending, but that possibility exists. He is scheduled to be re-evaluated at the end of March, when the Bucks will have seven games left in the season.
“I’m sick for Andrew,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said Wednesday. “He’s put a lot of effort, focus and concentration into this season and is becoming a heck of a young center.”
Within a span of less than two weeks, the Bucks have lost two-fifths of their starting lineup and two marquee players. Redd suffered torn ligaments in his left knee on Jan. 24 against Sacramento, ending his season and leaving the Bucks without their leading scorer.
Bogut has struggled with back pain for more than a month and twice has tried to return to the lineup. He missed four games in early January before returning for three games, but the pain persisted and he sat out eight consecutive games before returning on Friday at Toronto.
He was limited to 16 minutes against the Raptors and again played 16 minutes on Saturday against Atlanta, and he contributed nicely as the Bucks won both games. But he could not shake the pain and did not make the trip to New Jersey earlier this week as the Bucks lost to the Nets, 99-85.
“We have nothing but the utmost respect for him,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said, “for his willingness to come out and play and fight through the pain.
“You knew just because it was Andrew, you knew there had to be something there. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And are Wednesday clinging to the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position by percentage points over New Jersey and by one game over the New York Knicks. But not too many experts will give them a chance to reach the post-season with both Redd and Bogut out of the lineup.
“The guys have worked incredibly hard and been competitive every night,” Skiles said. “We’re still in a position to do something.
“I’ll continue to do what I’ve done, go out and try to win games. You learn by winning.”
Bogut underwent a number of exams on Tuesday, including a bone scan. He will not have to undergo surgery but will rest and rehabilitate the injury over the eight-week period.
A stress fracture is described as a small sliver or crack in the bone caused by repeated traumas, and complete rest is normally prescribed to heal such an injury. The pounding and bumping that the 7-foot, 260-pound Bogut goes through on game nights are not conducive to recovery.
“We’ll see what happens in eight weeks and go from there,” Skiles said. “We don’t know what position we’ll be in at that point.
“We’re not going to do anything foolish at that point. There’s nobody anywhere saying anything about rushing him back.”
The Bucks are looking at both the short term and the long term as they continue through this season, and they certainly have Bogut’s present health and future career in mind.
Last summer, the 24-year-old Australian agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract extension that will begin with the 2009-’10 season.
“If we were going to err on any side with a player like Andrew, I think anyone would say, ’Err on the side of caution,’ “ Hammond said of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 National Basketball Association draft.
But the general manager said the Bucks can’t engage in any “pity party” with Redd and Bogut out of the lineup. Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions have stepped into the starting lineup and made huge contributions, and veteran forward Richard Jefferson gives the team a viable scoring option in Redd’s absence.
“It’s our responsibility to deal with it,” Hammond said. “No one is going to feel sorry for us. We don’t want to give ourselves any excuses, either.
“We don’t have any option but to continue to work and compete, from myself and our coaching staff to our players.”
Skiles said he didn’t anticipate making any dramatic lineup changes in the three remaining games before the league all-star break in mid-February. The Bucks will host Detroit on Saturday and Houston and Indiana next week before the break.
Veteran Francisco Elson has started the past three games at center, with Dan Gadzuric in reserve. Skiles also has made use of a small lineup featuring Villanueva at the center spot.
“We need a little bit more from everybody,” Skiles said. “That’s what you’ve got to do when key players go down. Each player needs to get one more rebound a game, one more assist.”
Bogut was averaging 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in 36 games, including 33 starts, and was playing 31.2 minutes per game. He ranked 11th in the league in rebounding and was one of 11 players to average double figures in both points and rebounds.
Hammond said his approach would be the same as it was when the Bucks lost Redd.
“It’s not like we have the ability to go out and acquire a 20-point scorer to replace Michael Redd,” Hammond said.
“And it’s not like we can go out and find a starting center to replace Andrew Bogut. That’s not realistic thinking. This doesn’t change our short-term or long-term thinking.”