West Australian: Perth Wildcats looking to make big move for Andrew Bogut
Will Milwaukee's loss be Australia's gain? It's looking increasingly likely. On the heels of Patty Mills' signing with the Melbourne Tigers a week ago, Andrew Bogut confirmed that he was negotiating with "several NBL clubs" in the hopes of returning to Australia during the ongoing NBA lockout. But as much as it would make sense for Australia's biggest hoops star to come home during the lockout and spark some interest in Australian basketball, the finances of making it happen are less straight-forward.
The cost of insuring Bogut's NBA contract made his participation in next week's Olympic qualifiers a non-starter, and not surprisingly it also appears to be the main hurdle in bringing Bogut to the NBL. It's been rumored that insuring Bogut's $39 million contract with the Bucks could cost upwards of $500,000 every three months (which is about the same in US and Australian dollars), though Bogut doesn't sound too concerned with making much in salary beyond that. Having a big NBA contract to fall back on helps, but wanting to come home while giving Australian basketball a shot in the arm to would make this one of the better storylines of the lockout.
For now the Perth Wildcats seem to be leading the charge for Bogut's services, though he has also reportedly held talks with the Sydney Kings and Adelaide 36ers. The five-time NBL champions from Perth have suggested they would seek some creative financing to fund Bogut's insurance--a combination of private and possibly public funding that sounds more akin to financing an arena than signing a player. Still, the possibility of bringing Australia's biggest star back home has Perth managing director Nick Marvin thinking out of the box.
"For Andrew Bogut to play for us, and if that is the only hurdle we have to cross, I would hope that government and corporate Western Australia would support us and make it work," Marvin said.
"I don't have $500,000 sitting in my back pocket, but would it be important to the people of Western Australia? Absolutely."
For Bucks fans, the possibility of Bogut playing abroad is both encouraging and worrying. On the plus side, the mere fact that Bogut is talking about playing basketball rather than needing more time to heal his surgically-repaired elbow is a decidedly good thing. That alone is the best news Bucks fans could hear all summer. Moreover, Perth's regular season starts October 8 and only features about a game per week through the end of March, so it's not the kind of rigorous schedule that we're used to seeing in the NBA. Assuming Bogut can stay healthy, the NBL could be a good opportunity for Bogut to stay in basketball shape and hopefully get back some of the offensive rhythm that abandoned him following his severe arm injury. Sure, you can work on free throws and mid-range jumpers in an empty gym, but there's something to be said for doing it in game action. And yes, I realize how naive it might sound to even talk about Bogut finding a mid-range game at this point, but it's summer and we can dream, right?
Still, you'd also forgive Wisconsinites for being wary of seeing the Bucks' oft-injured best player put in harm's way unnecessarily. Bogut has missed an average of 25 games while finishing each of the past three seasons on the shelf, so there's something to be said for avoiding game action altogether while the lockout rolls on. If Bogut does make the move, the main concern for Bucks fans will simply be that the big man stay healthy--where he plays and how well would all be secondary.