Whew had some major digital tape-recorder malfunctions all through this interview with Andrew Bogut who patiently endured multiple stop-starts to this today.
Looks I recovered all 20-or-so minutes by some miracle.
I’m frankly shocked that I didn’t lose at least some of the interview but I’m not surprised at Bogut’s clear direct answers about his health about the Warriors’ mentality and expectations about Jermaine O’Neal and about Bogut’s thinking on the Warriors’ chase for Dwight Howard last summer.
Last year at this time Bogut wasn’t in a great mood and wasn’t doing hardly anything in training camp. He’s lighter now smiling all the time happy to talk about anything… and his teammates are buzzing about how well he’s playing–and have been since they started working out about a month ago.
Practices are closed to the media but it sounds like Bogut’s biggest upgrade is his overall quickness–he can attack the rim he can run the floor… and as he says even beat his guy down the court for easy buckets.
Here’s the interview…
—-ANDREW BOGUT interview transcript/
-Q: I remember pretty clearly that a year ago you weren’t quite looking like this or in this good of a mood… How different really is it for you from this time in camp a year ago?
-BOGUT: I’m just healthy. My body feels good. I had a chance to actually work on my game this summer and rectify some things.
I’m getting up and down the floor–doing basketball-specific conditioning.
In the preseason last season I wasn’t even allowed on the court until late October and was stuck on a treadmill the whole time.
Just healthy man. I feel good. Hopefully I can keep pushing.
-Q: Your coach was saying you’re doing things he hasn’t seen you do in a while. What specifically can you do now on the court that you couldn’t do last year?
-BOGUT: Just moving like I know I can. I’m moving around going quick and finishing in the paint getting offensive rebounds bringing the ball up if I have to.
I rebound off the glass and if I can’t find a quick outlet I bring it up myself. They haven’t seen that aspect of my game because I wasn’t moving too well with it.
Just trying to run the floor. When I was in my prime I was a very good runner as a big man and just getting cheap baskets.
-Q: Beating the other center down the floor…
-BOGUT: Yeah trying to beat the other guy and just wear him down just get up and down the floor a little bit and I’ve done that really well this training camp.
-Q: Any chance you’re doing too much? Maybe back off a little this early?
-BOGUT: Not really. I mean Coach has–begrudgingly–pulled me out of a couple drills which I wasn’t too happy about. Generally it’s the later stuff that the younger guys go through; I can go through it but Coach is trying to save me obviously.
But I feel that I don’t need to be saved or limited in minutes because my body feels good.
I’ve been doing this since August I’ve been going up and down like this. I’ve had no set backs. Obviously you get the regular soreness of going through training camp but there’s nothing serious.
-Q: When’s the last time you felt like this–four years ago? Five years ago?
-BOGUT: Oh no I felt like this before I did my ankle (in 2012).
I broke my elbow (in 2010) and that was a different recovery because I lost a lot of my touch. So that was a different mental demon to fight. But I always felt good conditioning-wise and moving around and using my quickness.
Obviously after I broke the ankle… last season I felt like I was playing at maybe 40 or 50% capacity.
I felt like I was a lumbering per se traditional center just banging guys around. I had no real skill or speed or movement in my game. It was all very one-dimensional.
Now that I’m feeling like I can move like the way I know I can those other dimensions of my game will flourish.
-Q: Is it fun to see the reactions of your teammates to the way you’re playing? That’s really what I’ve noticed–they’re just so happy to see you like this.
-BOGUT: Yeah that was the most frustrating thing last season. Probably even some of my teammates were like ‘Wow we traded for this guy?’
That’s part of pro sports. I’ve tried to push through it mentally and physically. All I could do is come in and do my rehab.
Everyone’s questioning ‘when is he going to be back?’ ‘How bad was the ankle?’
But in reality it was probably a 12-month injury. I came back in 6 months–less than six months. So you’ve got that side of things you come back too early you’re not playing well fans criticize you.
Then on the other side you’ve got the Derrick Rose side of things where you take your time and you get criticized for that.
So it’s a lose-lose situation for an athlete in that proposition.
-Q: And you were obviously not happy with the way you played when you did play.
-BOGUT: Exactly. And you aren’t happy and the fans are saying ‘oh he’s lost a step.’ It’s a lose-lose situation.
So I knew that coming in. I just tried to focus on being a professional and keeping my mouth shut doing my rehab and when I was out there I had good games and bad games. Probably more bad games.
It did get me down. But I couldn’t let it get me down for the next game I had to go out and perform again.
-Q: Do you think the limited things you did last year the way you helped the team at the end despite your limitations helps you focus on things this season? Can you build from that base?
-BOGUT: A little bit. I really focused on doing things that I still think are my strengths–and I think that’s why I’m a good player in this league. Just because I do a lot of things well.
My screening got a whole lot better last season. I really tried to focus on it especially when you’ve got guys like Steph and Klay really knocking that guy on his ass and getting those guys open.
That really took a precedence in the Denver series and I focused on the finer details of just hustling setting good screens trying to block shots and plug the paint. Which didn’t really affect my ankle too much.
Once you start getting into running the floor making quick moves… I just wasn’t in a position to do that.
-Q: You talk to Iguodala at all about your screening game? (Iguodala was his biggest hit in the playoffs.)
-BOGUT: (Laughs.) Yeah I have to apologize for that first one I set on him in Denver. But I’m pretty sure he’s glad he’s on this side now.
-Q: Just don’t get him in practice.
-BOGUT: Had a couple teammates already come up ‘We’re teammates don’t hit me too hard!’ I’ve got to turn it down a little bit. (Laughs.)
-Q: What’s it like going up against Jermaine O’Neal in practice?
-BOGUT: It’s great. He’s still a premier defender in the NBA in my opinion. Obviously he’s not as quick as he once was when he was younger but he’s so smart. He’s got a high basketball IQ.
I’ve asked him for some help on things offensive and defensively. I mean he doesn’t stay in the league 17-18 years by accident.
So I’m cherishing the fact that I can go to him as a veteran; he’s played through the rough and tough ’90s when it was a brawl early-2000s when they took out a lot of rules to make it more athletic.
So he’s played through different phases of the NBA. I’m excited to be part of that.
-Q: What’s this team going to be like this season? What’s it’s identity going to be?
-BOGUT: We’ve acquired more pieces to help us. Obviously the loss of Jarrett Jack hurts us with some bench scoring but I think whoever starts–we’ve probably got six or seven guys who can start. So two of them will have to come off the bench.
So I think our bench scoring will be OK.
But I’m a firm believer the be-all and end-all is our defense. We’re going to score. We’re a great scoring team.
But last season in the playoffs we realized when we play defense even 90% of the time during the game maybe we can have a little lapse here or there we’re going to win ballgames.
The old Warriors of we-might-guard-this-court or we-might-not… that’s not going to cut it especially in the playoffs.
-Q: What have you seen out of Kuzmic so far?
-BOGUT: He hasn’t gone live yet. He sprained his ankle really really bad in the preseason and it’s still swollen. They’re easing him into 1
on 1 work now and hopefully in a week or two he can get into 5 on 5 full-contact.
I feel his pain. I’ve been there and done that.
-Q: Looks like he has some skills.
-BOGUT: He’s raw so he’s still going to have to figure out the movements of the game. But he’s got good hands for a big guy; seems to know how to play the game. But obviously the NBA for big fellahs is tough if you’re coming from overseas because it’s a totally different pace. Once he picks that up he’ll be OK.
-Q: There’s talk that you guys had a number written on a board…
-BOGUT: I haven’t seen that board and I haven’t heard about it to be quite honest.
-Q: So what’s realistic to aim for?
-BOGUT: I’m not silly enough to put a number on it. In the NBA you never know what can happen–injuries trades free agents. You just never know what happens.
My first couple years in the league guys used to do that or coaches would come in and say ‘our goal is to win 45.’
We’ve got a goal; we’ll keep it in the locker room and I think that’s how we’ll go. We leave that up to you guys to put a number on it. Win more than we lose.
-Q: I think your goal is above that. How about home-court in a couple playoff rounds?
-BOGUT: Of course you want home-court in any series… I’m a firm believer you don’t want to come in and say ‘Let’s win 45 games.’ Because then what about those other games you’re probably pissing away? Or all of a sudden there’s two months left and you’re at 43 and then you start…
You’ve got to be careful setting those goals. And if guys say it to you guys and it’s a great article for you guys and all of a sudden if we don’t hit our milestone it’s like bang.
So I stay away from that stuff.
-Q: Are you one of the best teams in the West?
-BOGUT: We’re up there. I think we’ve definitely gotten better. But it’s all about how we start. I really believe the guys that came in early–which is most of the guys–in early September that’s a big head start going into training camp.
This stuff we’re doing in training camp we don’t have to spend that much time on it because we’ve been doing it all of September. And that helps.
If we can steal games in November and December those are very very important. When teams can get on those runs then the rest of the season comes easy.
I think we’re one of the better teams in the West but we still have work to do.
-Q: What’s your best line-up then?
-BOGUT: That’s a tough one for me to answer. That’s a question for Coach. But we have many different facets–we have a defensive-oriented line-up even under-rated guys–Toney Douglas his defense on the ball is unbelievable and very under-rated; he picks up full-court and really gets into guys.
So we have a more defensive outfit then we have more of an offensive outfit.
I think Coach is going to have his hands full this season trying to find minutes for all the guys. But it’s a good problem to have.
With some teams it’s a bad problem to have but I don’t think it’s a bad problem for this team. I don’t think we have any knuckleheads that are going to kick up a fuss especially considering the success and what we bought into last season.
On a different team you could have some issues. But on this team I think we’ll be OK.
-Q: Are the 5-on-5 rosters mixed up each time?
-BOGUT: They’re mixed up. Generally they try to put two or three of the potential starters on each team and then fill in the rest. It’s been good; very competitive practices.
Coach Jackson is great because he isn’t one of those coaches that wants to kill us just to kill us. We’ll work hard but at the same time when we work hard he’ll respond by being forgiving as well. That’s very very important in my opinion.
He does a great job of knowing when guys are tired knowing when guys can give it a little more. But generally we go an hour-and-a-half two hours we go hard we go home.
Then it’s up to guys to do it at the end–guys can get their own work at the end if they want to get extra shots up be professional about it.
-Q: Do you think about rationing minutes for the long haul? Maybe take some games off to be fresher for the playoffs anything like that? Last year you were maybe at your best at the end…
-BOGUT: I want to play as many minutes as I can. But I don’t think there’s a number set on it.
I think by default I won’t have to play 40 minutes. Because with our bench… I’m very comfortable with Jermaine coming in and playing 10-15 minutes a game. That’s a great luxury to have.
I’m competitive. I feel best playing 30-35 minutes. That’s how I feel most comfortable. But that’s up to Coach and I think by default I’m not going to have to play 40 minutes.
In Milwaukee I did because our back-up bigs we kept changing them a couple of them got hurt when I was there and I ended up playing 40 minutes-plus a night. It does wear you down.
But I think with this team I have no gripes. We have some good back-up big men.
-Q: Do you need to play 82? Can you aim for 75? Something like that?
-BOGUT: My goal is to play 82 games. People are saying… I’ve heard rumors through the media department that people are setting goals ‘he should play this much he should play X…’
I want to play 82 games and I want to play all the playoff games we’re in hopefully 20 25 of those games. I’m not coming in setting a goal ‘oh if I play 60 that’ll be great for me.’ No I want to play 82 games.
I’ve had a hard run with injury everyone knows that. But these last two injuries if you take them away from my career—take away two split-second moments out of my career and the ‘injury-prone’ label’s gone.
One of them is getting a little shove in the back and coming off the rim 10 feet high and breaking my elbow.
And the other one is getting under-cut by Kyle Lowry after he shot a floater and falling on his ankle. Take those two split-seconds away I’ve only really ever had one injury which is a little back stress fracture.
So I don’t feel like I need to come in and say ’50 games would be a good year.’ I want to play 82.
-Q: And you’ve got the little matter of pending free agency coming up after this season. Which makes this a contract year. Have there been any talks with the Warriors about an extension? They’ve said they want to sign you pretty clearly.
-BOGUT: I want to stay.
-Q: So you’ve had talks?
-BOGUT: There haven’t been. But I want to stay here if I can. I like the organization I like the direction I like the owners I love the coaches I love the players.
I honestly want to stay here. But I’m not (overlooking) that I’ve been hurt so my value has been diminished a little bit. And obviously I want to have a good year.
But I’m not one of those guys who wants to have a good year get my deal and then shut it down. I wouldn’t do that. People might think that because of last year and the injury but it’s a unique circumstance.
I just want to keep playing. I want to get to the playoffs and make a run at that and then let the chips fall where they may.
If I get an extension I get it. If I don’t I don’t. But we’re not really talking about it right now. The focus is training camp.
And I think a big fellah on the open market isn’t all so bad either judging by the last (off-season).
-Q: Were you bothered by the Warriors trying so hard to get Dwight Howard?
-BOGUT: I mean look let’s be honest right now he’s a potential Hall of Famer. So I can’t say if I was a GM I wouldn’t be looking to make that deal.
So I don’t take it personal. From what I know no premier free agent has ever had ever visited the Warriors the last X-number of years.
They were pretty excited by that.
In some ways you look at it and it does piss you off a little bit. But I don’t take it personal. They’re trying to get better.
I’m still here and Dwight’s created his circus and the circus is past and we’re moving on. I’m not too worried about it.
Like I said I want to be here. I love it as a place to live–I love where I’m living right now love the weather love the people love the fans.
But it’s a matter of business. I’m not silly enough to go out tomorrow and buy a house and think I’m going to be here the rest of my career because the NBA it’s not just realistic.
-Q: You didn’t picture yourself playing next to Kobe when the Dwight talks were happening?
-BOGUT: Next to Kobe?
-Q: They would’ve had to send you to the Lakers as part of any Dwight deal probably right?
-BOGUT: That would’ve been very very interesting. Funny the way the league works now we end up playing them four times in the matter of a month.
Whew had some major digital tape-recorder malfunctions all through this interview with Andrew Bogut who patiently endured multiple stop-starts to this today.