Does Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, have his sights set on Andrew Bogut? Back in August, MJ raised many an eyebrow with his comments regarding the Milwaukee Bucks center: “I love Bogut’s game. He’s made a very good start and he’s definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he’s been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with and will be a star for some time.” This is high praise, indeed, coming from basketball immortality. But it makes you wonder…..
In September, Jordan was fined $100,000 for the above comments. NBA rules prohibit team officials from talking about NBA players during the Lockout (in the media). What was MJ thinking? Truth be told, he was answering a question about small-market teams like the Bucks being hurt by the NBA Lockout. Maybe he just let his mouth run accidentally. Or…is Jordan planning on making a play for Bogut when he becomes a free agent in 2014? Heck, why wait? he can make a play for him anytime via trade. Jordan’s recent acquisition of Corey Maggette may have been a preview of future Bucks headed to Charlotte. Andrew Bogut could be next.
While MJ’s rep as a front office guy was nowhere near that of his as a player, I agree with him on his assessment of Bogut. Okay, so he thought Kwame Brown would be a great center too but, hey, Andrew is no Kwame. In my eyes, he is the 3rd best center in the league, behind Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Considering that Dwight doesn’t have a back-to-the-basket game, Bogut is actually the 2nd best true center we have today. The traditional center is a dying breed in the NBA, so you can see why Jordan is so intrigued by him. Michael envied Kobe Bryant in the early 2000′s, playing alongside the dominant Shaquille O’neal. The likes of Luc Longley and Bill Cartwright in Chicago didn’t quite compare. There is no triangle offense in Charlotte, so if the Bobcats are to play off someone in the post they’re going to have to do it with a true bigman down there.
Andrew Bogut is a tough, ornery dude. He’s an Aussie with Croatian blood…that’s powerful stuff. He averaged 12.8 points and, 11 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game last season and he wasn’t even close to being 100%. In April of 2010, he took a nasty fall off an awkward dunk attempt and mangled his entire right arm. While many looked at it as primarily an elbow injury, Bogut said that the hardest part to rehab was actually his right wrist. This is his shooting hand. It helped, though, that he’s ambidextrous in the paint. Andrew is as liable to use his left hand to finish as he is his right, keeping defenders constantly guessing. What’s just as impressive is his touch with either hand. He doesn’t just clank it up onto the board like a lot of big guys today, the guy nestles the ball on the rim every time. It must be a Croatian thing…makes sense why Jordan is so hot on him. He probably reminds him of ex-teammate Toni Kukoc in that regard. Oh, and did I mention the guy can pass out of the post too? hence that “traditional center” comment earlier.
When you watch a Milwaukee Bucks game the first things you probably notice are coach Scott Skiles angrily shouting plays from the sideline and point guard Brandon Jennings pounding the ball at the top of the circle. You think those are obviously the two leaders of this young team. Well, I think that it’s quietly Andrew Bogut’s team. He blends just the right amount of team camaraderie with tough love. His comments in the media too are very ‘leaderly’. He knows just how to push guys subtly through his quotes. He also refuses to take any nonsense out there. If he’s not getting the ball enough or if the team is getting sloppy he makes sure to let the guys know it. That is the kind of leadership Michael Jordan’s team could use.
The Charlotte Bobcats need a franchise-caliber player, badly. They also need someone at center to help them forget about drafting bigman Emeka Okafor 2nd overall back in 2004. Andrew could do both of these things, and he could do them with a digestible price tag (his contract maxes out at $14 million in 2014). Assuming he stays healthy, this is a workable number. Especially considering that the Bobcats have been gutting their payroll the past year or so.
We may see Andrew Bogut in a Charlotte Bobcats uniform or we may not….. but we will see him in an All-Star game one day.