There’s certainly some risks involved, but Andrew Bogut could end up being a very cost-effective free agent addition that the Utah Jazz could pursue.
The Utah Jazz have made no shortage of moves as they inch ever closer to finding out the results of their main objective this offseason – retaining All-Star Gordon Hayward. After trading a combined three draft picks and former lottery pick Trey Lyles to acquire rookies Donovan Mitchell and Tony Bradley on draft night, the Jazz also recently shipped off a first-rounder acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring in point guard Ricky Rubio.
Whether or not the rookie trades were a good move will likely be determined somewhere down the road, however, the verdict on the Rubio trade should come much sooner. Immediately he provides the Jazz with further financial flexibility than what they likely would have had with George Hill, so if Utah manages to pull off an impactful trade as a result of having some extra cash on hand, that could be one quick return from the transaction.
Furthermore, if Gordon Hayward ends up staying with the Jazz next season, then it wouldn’t be hard to think favorably of the Rubio trade and the impact it very well could have had on the All-Star forward’s decision. From there, given how established Rubio already is in the league, how he plays in the upcoming season will very likely determine extremely quickly just how savvy or unwise the move was.
There’s certainly some concerns about his game especially concerning his shooting, however, if he is able to revamp the Jazz and make his teammates better with his electrifying passing and playmaking, then he could turn out to be a solid and welcome addition, particularly given that he’s younger than Hill and on a more favorable contract moving forward.
But regardless of whether or not Hayward returns or Rubio pans out, the Jazz are likely far from done this offseason and certainly still have work to do if they hope to shore up the roster in a few areas to make significant improvements as a team. One area where they could very well look to upgrade is in their backup center position.
With Jeff Withey being an unrestricted free agent and Derrick Favors much more suited for and comfortable at the power forward spot (not to mention potentially being a trade piece), Utah will need to make sure they have a reliable player coming off the bench behind Rudy Gobert to maintain the team’s much-needed rim protection even when the Stifle Tower is out of the game.
And if they’re looking at a potential good fit, Australian center and former University of Utah standout Andrew Bogut could very well fit the bill.
Although Bogut’s 2016-17 season was disappointing to say the least – injuries reduced him to just 26 games with the Dallas Mavericks then he broke his leg a mere minute into his Cleveland Cavaliers debut – there’s reason to believe that he could still contribute. As recently as the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Bogut was playing a major role on an NBA Champion (2015) and Western Conference Champion (2016) Golden State Warriors squad as a rim protector and paint defender.
The big man averages 10 points per game for his career on 53.4 percent shooting, but his most impressive body of work comes on the other end of the court where his career averages include 1.6 blocks and 8.9 rebounds per game. As more of a defensive specialist, he would be a wonderful asset coming off the bench behind Gobert in a role that wouldn’t require him to do much scoring but rather to be a stopgap keeping other teams from running up the score while Rudy rested.
Of course, Bogut’s injury history is more than a little concerning, not to mention that he still has to fully recover from his most recent ailment in his unbelievably short stint with the Cavs. However, in a recent piece from Sporting News, Bogut stated that he is “real close” to making a recovery, that he is “walking fine” and that he’s been able to “do some [basic] work” such as jog, lift and shoot flat-footed.
He added further that in less than a month he should be cleared for full basketball activities, putting him far ahead of his original schedule. All of that good news led him to also claim that he feels that he has “a lot more basketball to give.”
These are all great signs for a guy that the Jazz could very well be able to acquire on an affordable contract to play a role as a reliable reserve in limited, albeit crucial, minutes. There’s several reasons why he’d be a good fit for the Jazz aside from his basketball talent, such as having played his college ball at University of Utah and being close with fellow Australian Joe Ingles.
Adding Bogut most certainly would be a risk given his age and injury history, but if Utah feels confident about his ability to recover and his chances to round back into some semblance of his former self, they may be very hard-pressed to find a more suitable backup center to complement their existing roster and style of play.
His addition in and of itself likely would do little to sway Hayward into staying with the Jazz long-term, but it would be another important piece to the puzzle of showing Gordon that the organization is committed to continuing to improve little by little in any way possible. Thus, although Bogut’s future effectiveness remains very much a mystery, if signs indicate that he can contribute and the Jazz can steal him on a minimal contract, he’s a guy they absolutely should pursue.
Gordon Hayward is set to meet with the Jazz to discuss free agency on Monday and will purportedly make a quick decision from there. With that being the case, the Jazz have little time left to make further improvements (and at this point could simply wait to see what Hayward decides to do before going too crazy), but it will be interesting to see what final moves, if any, take place as a final pitch to Hayward.
And while it may be a long shot to assume they’d roll the dice on Bogut this early into free agency, going after an experienced and accomplished player such as him would be a great additional sign to Hayward that the Jazz are planning to continue to upgrade around him until they’ve built a championship-contending squad.