Big summer ahead for Bogut
The 7-foot Bogut desperately wanted to be on the floor but knew he could only observe as the Milwaukee Bucks nearly took out the third-seeded Atlanta Hawks before falling in a seven-game, first-round Eastern Conference series.
“I definitely enjoyed watching the guys have the success they had,” Bogut said. “But did I enjoy it? No.
“I played almost 75 games this year and was pretty much injury-free, barring a freak thing. Having that taken away from me at the end of the season is pretty frustrating.”
Bogut missed the final six games of the regular season and the playoffs after suffering a broken right index finger, a dislocated right elbow and broken bones in his right forearm in a gruesome tumble to the Bradley Center floor on April 3 against Phoenix.
He reflected on the Bucks’ season Monday and looked toward the future as the team gathered for a final time at the Cousins Center, following its Game 7 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.
Bogut will make the long flight to his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday, but he said he will return to Milwaukee at the end of May to have his cast removed.
“I want to see my family and friends and just clear my head,” Bogut said. “With my cast on for another three or four weeks, I just want to get home and be around people I grew up with.”
After the cast is removed by the team medical staff about May 25, Bogut intends to return to Australia for a few months.
“The elbow is pretty much healed; I’m just getting the swelling out,” he said. “The wrist feels good already. The finger is the thing that worries the doctors because the ligaments were still attached when I broke it. There’s a slight chance it can still re-break very easily in the first few weeks of rehab.
“So they’re worried about me not trying to push myself the first couple weeks. Whether it’s the end of June or early July, I don’t know, but I’m definitely banking on having a couple solid months of basketball training before coming to Milwaukee.”
Bogut said a news conference is planned in Australia later this week for an announcement regarding his availability to play for his country in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
Earlier this season Bucks general manager John Hammond expressed concern about Bogut’s participation in the tournament, and that was before the center suffered his season-ending injury.
Bogut improved dramatically in his fifth pro season, averaging 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds and ranking second in the league in blocks (2.5 per game).
“The biggest thing was to work on my consistency,” said Bogut, who benefited from the experience and wisdom of 37-year-old backup center Kurt Thomas.
“A bad game for me this year was 12 (points) and 10 (rebounds), and I still had an effect defensively.
“In games where I wasn’t scoring well or shooting the ball well, I tried to impact the game by blocking shots, taking charges, getting rebounds.”
The most dramatic improvement in his game came in his shot blocking, and he said that was related to losing weight.
“I played strong and heavy my third year,” said Bogut, who was out much of his fourth season due to a back injury. “I was at a low body fat percentage, but just didn’t think I could move as well. Now going back to what I was out of college (at Utah) has really helped my game.
“My knees aren’t sore anymore, and my back isn’t sore anymore so it was a success for me.”
Bogut reached the playoffs in his rookie year in 2006 but was part of three non-playoff teams before the Bucks broke through this season with 46 victories.
“You never want to be satisfied with being eliminated from the playoffs, especially when we were up, 3-2, and had a chance to win at home,” Bogut said of the series against the Hawks. “We want to build on this year.
“We think we’re capable of getting home-court advantage, whether it’s next year or the year after.”
Bogut clearly was missed by the Bucks despite their gritty performance in winning three straight against Atlanta before dropping Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road.
“It’s obviously a big summer for him,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “He’s shown a lot of improvement. He’s better in the low post; he’s always a good defender.
“He needs to even get better in the low post and make a face-up shot to keep people honest. He needs to come back and be in great shape and ready to go.”