By Ben Golliver
Seven months after trading fan favorite Monta Ellis, the Golden State Warriors still can't say when they will have something to show for it.
The Warriors announced Saturday that center Andrew Bogut, acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in a March trade for Ellis, was recently evaluated by a doctor, but still does not have a timetable for return from an April ankle surgery. The good news: he has not yet suffered a setback.
Warriors center Andrew Bogut met with Dr. Richard Ferkel at the team’s practice in Los Angeles earlier today (October 20) for a scheduled follow-up consultation on Bogut’s surgically repaired left ankle.
Following the examination, Dr. Ferkel concluded that Andrew is continuing to make progress on the rehabilitation schedule that was outlined immediately following his surgery (performed by Ferkel on April 27, 2012) and that there have been no setbacks. While the results of today’s examination were positive and Bogut remains on his rehab schedule, the exact date of his return to full basketball activity has not been determined.
Bogut and the team are not setting any deadlines or time tables and the plan remains as it has been from the outset: Bogut will return to action when his ankle is 100%.
CSNBayArea.com reported that Warriors GM Bob Myers would like to see Bogut ready for Golden State's regular season opener, against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 31, but caution and doctor's orders will win out.
“He’s been cleared,” Myers said of Bogut. “There’s nothing structural that’s holding him back. It’s more on feel and how the ankle is responding. He’s doing some live one-on-one. He’s not telling (Bogut) he can’t do five-on-five, he’s telling him to keep moving forward and keep listening to his body.”
Bogut, 27, has missed 13 or more games in seven of his nine NBA seasons. He appeared in just 12 games for the Bucks in 2011-12, averaging 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 blocks in 30.3 minutes per game. He stands to make $13 million in 2012-13 and $14 million in 2013-14.
Golden State's hopes for returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07 would seem to rely heavily on Bogut's availability. While Myers and company have done well to replace Ellis' scoring, finding talented wing Klay Thompson in the 2011 draft and selecting Harrison Barnes in 2012, they simply lack the things that Bogut brings to the table. Last season, the Warriors ranked No. 26 in defensive efficiency and dead last in rebound rate. Aside from Bogut, the Warriors' only center options are Andris Biedrins and rookie Festus Ezeli, a pair that is more likely to strike fear in the heart of coach Mark Jackson than cause worry for any of Golden State's opponents. If Bogut does miss time in the regular season, Jackson will likely turn back to small ball, using forwards David Lee and Carl Landry to fill a majority of the post minutes. Lee and Landry bring plenty of offensive skill and activity, but they lack length and are far from ideal as paint-fillers and rim-protectors.
Moving Ellis for Bogut was clearly a calculated risk at the time; in truth, he wouldn't have even been available had he been in reasonably good health. Given the young scorers the Warriors have added to the mix, it's unlikely the Ellis trade will ever truly be lamented. Even if Bogut never plays a game, Golden State just isn't that much worse off without their former star, especially in light of some of the off-court distractions he created.
That said, legitimate second-guessing could come in a slightly different form if Bogut isn't able to return to his former levels of productivity in a reasonable amount of time. As in: What else could the Warriors have gotten for Ellis last season?
Note: Golden State is also dealing with an ankle injury to guard Stephen Curry, suffered during a preseason game on Friday night. He is expected to be ready for the regular season opener. Hat tip: @Sam_Amick