OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Bogut leaned back in a folding chair, arms crossed over his new white Golden State Warriors home jersey.
The 2.14-meter (7-foot) center, making his first formal appearance in a Golden State uniform since being acquired in a trade from Milwaukee last season, grinned at the mass of reporters gathered around the table in front of him as part of the Warriors’ media day.
Bogut joked about asking the questions himself before spending the next 40 minutes talking mostly about his surgically repaired ankle and his potential impact on a Golden State team that has made it to the NBA playoffs only once since 1994.
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“I’m very anxious, I haven’t played basketball since January,” Bogut said on Monday. “I’m sick of doing all the rehab and physio. I just want to get out there, put the ball in the basket and be around the team.”
While Bogut has not been cleared for contact drills, he will be on the court doing light individual work when the Warriors begin training camp on Tuesday.
That’s a far cry from where the Australian was following surgery on his fractured ankle on April 27 to clean out loose particles and bone spurs.
The procedure left Bogut in a protective boot for nearly three months. His recovery stalled when swelling in Bogut’s leg kept him essentially immobile for another two weeks.
Bogut broke his ankle on Jan. 25 when he landed awkwardly against Houston and missed the rest of the season. That was another injury to plague Bogut during his career. He missed the end of the 2009-10 season when he dislocated his right elbow, sprained his right wrist and broke his right hand in a hard fall to the floor.
Bogut, averaging 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots for his career, also missed significant time with an injured lower back in the 2008-09 season.
“It is frustrating and it does play on me a little bit but at the same time I look back at the injuries that I’ve had and that could happen to anybody,” Bogut said. “I can’t control landing on somebody’s foot and I can’t control coming off the rim.”
The Warriors have traditionally been one of the NBA’s highest scoring teams in recent years but have had little to show for it. Their only playoff appearance in the past 18 years was in 2007 when they stunned favored Dallas in the first round.
With Golden State, Bogut is expected to fill a major weakness in the post on the defensive end.
By acquiring Bogut from Milwaukee in the March 13 trade that sent Monta Ellis to the Bucks, Golden State believes it has taken the first step toward correcting its problems in the post.
“I think what Andrew can bring to this team is a defense-first attitude,” general manager Bob Myers said. “Throughout the league he’s recognized as an elite defender. That’s not something we’ve had here in the past, so if he can be the voice of the defense and hold other players accountable, that would go a long way for our team.”
For now, Bogut is focused on simply trying to get back onto the court. The 2005 No. 1 overall pick says his ankle is fine and he’s had not setbacks, with the only hurdles left being 1-on-1 drills and full 5-on-5 scrimmages.
Bogut and the Warriors believe he’ll be ready for the season opener at Phoenix on Oct. 31. Bogut would prefer to be back before then to work on timing and chemistry with his new teammates.
“That’s the hurdle I have to cross right now,” Bogut said. “I’ve got no choice but to figure it out quickly because once I’m back on the floor ready to play there’s not going to be a whole lot of time to get the rust off and learn things.”
The man Bogut is expected to replace in Golden State’s lineup, Andris Biedrins, also spoke with reporters and brushed off criticisms that arose after he was the only player on the Warriors roster who did not attend the team’s voluntary offseason workouts.
One of the most outspoken critics was Golden State coach Mark Jackson, who questioned the commitment of players who did not attend the workouts. Biedrins was the only one.
“I was practicing by myself, that’s about it,” Biedrins said. “My commitment level has always been the same as it is right now, like it was before. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t practicing hard. I was practicing twice a day for the last month. I feel great.”