Photo/Kris Koivisto

Following Year Off, Bogans "Just Happy to be Back" in Basketball

NBA veteran joins Trail Blazers for Summer League
by Cody Sharrett

Typically, the Samsung NBA Summer League serves as an introduction to the league for draft picks and other young players fighting for a roster spot. 

That sentiment was mostly true at the Trail Blazers' practice facility on Tuesday, except for one player. Surrounded by teammates several years his junior, NBA veteran guard Keith Bogans finds himself looking to make a return to the league following a year-and-a-half hiatus from the game.

With 11 seasons of experience with the Magic, Bobcats, Rockets, Bucks, Spurs, Bulls, Nets and Celtics, Bogans believes he can help young players learn the pro game in Trail Blazers camp. 

"I am the old man," the 35-year-old guard laughed. "They’re all 22, 23. Twenty-five might be the oldest... I’m a little older than those guys, by like 10 years."

He continued: "I’ll be on the floor to help these guys out with the experience that I have. Anything (Summer League coach Nate Tibbetts) asks me to do, I’m just happy to be back around the game."

Instead of testing the waters in Europe or opting for the D-League, Bogans left basketball after being waived by the 76ers following a trade with the Celtics last October. The journeyman hasn't appeared in an NBA game since January 2014, but assures "I’m in the best shape of my life" despite his age. 

"I did a little bit of everything: Bikram yoga to swimming to training every day on the court, off the court, running," Bogans said of his training regimen. "I said, ‘If I’m not going to play, then I’ve got everything I need, so why not get my body in the best shape?’

"A lot of the young guys have been like, ‘Yo, what you been doin’?’"

At this point in his career, Bogans isn't losing any sleep worrying about making the Trail Blazers' roster for the 2015-16 season. After an extended break, the former University of Kentucky star is happy just to be around the game with fresh perspective this summer.

"To me, I’m not even looking at it (as a tryout)," he explained. "I’m happy to be back around the game. I was going crazy for a year-and-a-half, contemplating. Once I got waived by Philly, the process of trying to get back -- I was just over it. I just wanted to sit at home and chill out. I said, ‘This year, I’ll come back and give it a fresh start.’ As far as I’m looking at it, as long as I do what I do and nothing out of the norm — this is what I do: I play defense and I shoot the basketball. I’m a tough, hard-nosed player. I’m going to do the dirty work.

"My stats won’t show up in the stat line, but that’s what I do."

The Trail Blazers open the Samsung NBA Summer League against the Boston Celtics on Saturday in Las Vegas.