NBA: Aussie Bogut just happy to be along for the ride with Warriors

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Andrew Bogut is under no illusions about the role he will fill in his second stint with the Golden State Warriors but the Australian said on Thursday that the chance to rejoin the reigning NBA champions was too good to pass up.

Bogut sparked interest from a number of NBA teams after a standout season with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) but knew there was really only one team that could lure him away from his homeland.

“It’s something that I’d be crazy to give up, the chance to win a championship with one of the greatest teams in basketball,” Bogut, who won a title with Golden State in 2015, told a news conference in Sydney.

“So it ended up being a pretty easy decision in that sense. Other teams weren’t really in consideration — I don’t think I would have gone back to play for anyone else.”

Bogut was named the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year in the NBL but is fully aware those awards will matter little when it comes to cracking the Warriors’ vaunted starting lineup.

The towering 34-year-old center will essentially serve as insurance in case DeMarcus Cousins, who in January made his Warriors debut after a torn Achilles tendon that sidelined him almost a year, is injured or limited by foul trouble.

“I spoke to (Warriors head coach) Steve Kerr last week and, for me, I’m under no illusions. It’s an absolute honor to sign (even if I don’t) play a minute. Anything more than that is a bonus.,” said Bogut.

“I appreciate the opportunity, if it’s waving a towel for 20 odd games and being a good team mate, I’m happy to do it.”

When Bogut does see the hardwood, the hopes will be that he can provide toughness inside and set up screens to free up the Warriors world-class shooters as the team chases a third consecutive NBA title and fourth in five seasons.

Bogut became Australia’s first number one NBA draft pick when Milwaukee selected him in 2005 and spent his first seven seasons with the Bucks before joining the Warriors where he was a starting big man for their championship run in 2015.

He was also with Golden State when they lost the 2016 NBA Finals despite holding a commanding 3-1 series lead over Cleveland.

Bogut went on to have brief stints with Dallas, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers and was an unsigned free agent when he joined Sydney last April.

Upon joining the Kings, Bogut was emphatic about his plans to play out the duration of his two-year contract with the purple and gold, saying at the time there were “no outs” in his deal if an NBA team should become interested.

Bogut, one of the most decorated players in Australian basketball, needed a letter of clearance from the Kings to join the NBA.

The 13-year NBA veteran has every intention of returning to Australia for the 2019-20 NBL season to take care of unfinished business after the Kings lost in this year’s semi-finals.

“It’s a very exciting time in the NBL … and yeah, go to Golden State for three months, win a championship, and come back here and win the NBL one next season,” said Bogut.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, Editing by Toby Davis and Nick Mulvenney)

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