Bogut returns as leader of new-look team
He wanted to rest for the first time in years, but after a gruesome fall he spent most of the summer either in a cast or in the middle of long physical therapy sessions.
Bogut is back after dislocating his elbow, spraining his wrist and breaking his hand, and he’s surrounded by a lot of new teammates.
Milwaukee will have at least nine new faces in a rotation that included Bogut, Brandon Jennings and John Salmons. Bogut hopes that the Bucks will finish in the Eastern Conference’s top four and that he’ll be part of the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season.
“It all starts with how well we mesh as a team and how well we get along with each other. We have a very deep team this year, that’s a good thing sometimes and sometimes that can cause problems with guys off the floor being unhappy with playing time and so on and so forth,” Bogut said on Monday, the day before training camp opens. “If we can get away from those distractions and play as a team, we’ll be good.”
The Bucks signed Drew Gooden early in the offseason and traded for Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jon Brockman. Other additions include Keyon Dooling, Earl Boykins and the three rookies from this year’s draft.
“These guys, looking on paper, we’re a great team, we’ve just got to get it together,” Gooden said. “You’ve got a point guard in Brandon Jennings that makes it a lot easier and a dominant presence down low in Andrew Bogut. ... Everybody else has to trickle down and find their way in.”
Jennings said the new faces will cause training camp to be intense.
“When you think about it, we’re like 10 deep right now, to tell you the truth. There’s two starting fives,” Jennings said. “There’s going to be a lot of fighting, a lot of trash talking. It’s going to be very intense this year, and I can’t wait for that.”
The 21-year-old Jennings has come to rely on Bogut perhaps more than any other point guard-center combination in the NBA.
“You already know how I feel about Andrew Bogut. We had that pick and roll thing going like John Stockton and (Karl) Malone back in the day,” Jennings said. “It’s good to have him back, he was out here playing with us. It seems like it’s a little bit more mental than anything else for him right now. Just so he knows he has that confidence and he’s able to do that with his arm.”
Bogut said he’s “90 percent” but that he wouldn’t be fully healthy for another 6 to 12 months. Still, he’ll find out in the coming weeks just how limited he might be following his fall on April 3 that’s been seen more than 493,000 times on YouTube for those who have a strong stomach.
“There’s still swelling that pops up every now and then when I do too much and that tissue is still trying to heal itself and fight and fight and fight. It’ll still take a little while to be 100 percent pain free,” Bogut said.
Bogut is used to longterm injuries. He suffered a hairline stress fracture in his spine two years ago and missed the majority of the 2008-09 season. He said he learned from the first experience to trust the rehab will work, but said this arm injury was much more frustrating.
Coach Scott Skiles said Bogut is not any more likely to be injured than his teammates in training camp and rarely notices when his big man’s elbow starts aching.
“It’s only when he misses a shot,” Skiles quipped, before giving a rare compliment. “The one guy that has noticeably stepped up from a leadership standpoint is Bogut in the last couple years. He more or less kind of ran the scrimmages here in September as far as getting the guys in and holding some guys accountable.”