When we last saw Andrew Bogut on the NBA stage, he was on the floor at Quicken Loans Arena, grabbing his left shin and cringing in pain. His stint as a rebounder and rim protector to help the Cleveland Cavaliers late in the season and through the 2017 playoffs lasted all of 58 seconds, snuffed by a fractured tibia when he collided with a Miami player in his March 6 debut.
Nearly four months later, Bogut is finishing his rehab and nearing NBA free agency, which begins Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
In a phone conversation from his native Australia, Bogut, 32, said he plans to resume jumping and full basketball workouts within three weeks. His injury did not require surgery, and he shed a custom carbon-fiber cast a few weeks ago.
“The big one was getting cleared to jog. And then just ramping it up week by week,” said Bogut, 32, a veteran of 12 seasons who started 2016-17 with Dallas before being included in a trade-deadline deal with Philadelphia for Nerlens Noel.
Waived by the Sixers, he signed a $385,000 deal with Cleveland in hopes of returning to the Finals for the third straight year (he went in 2015 and 2016 with Golden State). His injury ended that plan for both Bogut and the Cavs.
“Rehab’s been good,” he said. “I feel strong, everything feels good. But the full explosive stuff will be about another three weeks.”
To head off any concerns about his leg, agent David Bauman has sent copies of Bogut’s medical clearance and bone scans to interested teams. Bogut said they have a “laundry list” of more than 10 teams with whom they’ll talk, and added that he isn’t worried the injury will dissuade anyone.
“I don’t feel like this injury will hurt me long-term, because the bone will heal stronger than it was before,” he said.
The NBA’s style of play has moved away from dominant 7-footers roaming the low post, too. But there’s still work to be had for a player of his skills and experience, Bogut said. In 26 games with the Mavericks, including 21 starts in their first 46 games, he averaged 22.4 minutes, grabbing boards at a per-36 rate (13.5) that ranked second-best in his career.
“If you look at a lot of the teams with stretch fives, a lot of them have rebounding issues generally,” said Bogut, picked by Milwaukee No. 1 overall in 2005. “I know it’s not a max market for big guys, but you can still make a decent living from doing the little things. I like to think I do a lot of good things that go unnoticed as well. Teams I’ve played for, teams that have played against me know the value I have.”