Andrew Bogut open to staying with Mavs long term

Dallas' new big man likes the city, the team and the future as he transitions from his Golden State days

Scott Howard-Cooper

DALLAS — He bought a much bigger house here in the Metroplex for about the same money he paid for the place in a previous life in the Bay Area. He also will be making more off the same contract after being relocated, as opposed to voluntarily relocating, from California to Texas with its lack of state income tax.

“So it’s not all bad,” Andrew Bogut said.

Not even close. Bogut joins the Mavericks with coach Rick Carlisle wanting to give him a larger role as a scorer than Bogut had in recent years. There’s the chance to play on the same front line as Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes as a trio of skilled veterans, and he can do so with the playoffs (and maybe even 50 wins) within reach. If Bogut had to go somewhere, and he did, Dallas is hardly a bad outcome.

It’s just not Golden State, that’s all. It is that perspective that makes the jump seem canyonesque, that the Warriors are clear favorites to claim a third consecutive Western Conference title while the Mavericks open the season as contenders for the bottom half of the playoff bracket. The Warriors won a league-record 73 games in 2015-16 with Bogut as both a complementary piece (on an electric offense) and a critical piece (of a successful defense) … while the Mavericks won 42 games.

“It’s obviously a new start for me,” he said. “Adapting to a new system, new organization, new people. Trying to remember everyone’s name. Obviously Golden State is a top two or three team and Dallas is trying to work back to that.”

Bogut knows enough about Dallas – the place and the team – that he can already say, without benefit of more than a portion of preseason, that he wants to stay beyond this season. That is far from a resolution on his future considering there has yet to be any talks on a next contract, but it is a significant statement.

Next summer, Bogut will be 32 and a free agent, able to select a championship contender for another run at a ring. Yet his first preference is to stay with the Mavericks.

“From what I’ve seen so far I love it,” he said. “It’s much more suited to me as a person. I like California. But Texas, just the people here and the mentality’s a little slower probably than California with the every-day helter-skelter life. Whereas here it’s a little bit different culturally, in a good way. I wouldn’t say California or Texas is better. For myself, it feels like just a cool city. I like it. There’s a lot of good places to go. I didn’t realize how big the Dallas-Fort Worth area is. There’s a lot to do here, a lot of good restaurants and good cafes, a lot of nice people.

“When I first got here I couldn’t believe how nice the people were. People who didn’t even know who I was, just talking. ‘Hello. How are you? How’s your day?’ when you go into a shop. You just don’t hear that anymore. I guess it’s kind of that Texas mentality. I tweeted about it and some people were like, ‘You’re crazy, it never happens,’ but I experienced the first three, four days I was here. People were very nice to me. If I can be here long term, yeah, I’d love to.”

The Mavericks don’t need to commit and understandably will want to see how the pieces fit, but are positioning Bogut to have a central role. And no matter what happens with the roster next season and beyond, seizing on Golden State’s need to dump Bogut to create cap space to sign Kevin Durant was a no-brainer. Dallas acquired one of the best defensive centers in the game for a mere future second-round pick. That Bogut would be heading into the final season of his contract, giving the Mavs flexibility as well as talent, was a bonus.

“I’ve been an enormous fan of his for over a decade,” Carlisle said. “We would like to use him more as a scorer on the inside. I really feel it’s important that his level of aggression – attacking the basket – is there. I want him to get to the free-throw line more. I know he’s going to shoot better from the free-throw line the more he gets there. He’s got such a great touch and such a great feel for the game. He’s worked extremely hard at that part of it.

“You’re talking about a (Arvydas) Sabonis-, (Bill) Walton-level rim protector, rebounder, passer, play maker at 7-2 or whatever his height is. I just remember he was such a load to deal with in Milwaukee when he was a central figure in their offense. Not that he’s going to be a central figure, but we want him to be one of the people that creates a real balance when he’s on the floor.”

The Mavericks are not the Warriors, and being here is the reminder of the uncertainty of the NBA life. But the Mavericks have positives.

“I’d love to be here,” Bogut said. “The organization is first class. (Mark Cuban is) a great owner. Passionate and wants to win. From everything that I’ve seen, if it remains this way throughout the season, it’s sensational. But as you know, things can change throughout a year.”

No, as you know.

“Yeah,” Bogut said. “Exactly right.”

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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