The Warriors announced Monday that starting center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely with a rib fracture.
The injury puts into question Bogut's availability for the playoffs, which begin this weekend. The Mercury-News interviewed Bogut, noting that he "doesn't sound like he expects to play again this season or postseason."
''I've got to be careful, because if it cracks I'm looking at a punctured lung. You'll see me in the hospital with a tube coming out of me,'' Bogut said, according to the Associated Press. ''It's one of those things people have played through, but this is too close to comfort for me.''
Bogut sustained the injury during the fourth quarter of Golden State's 119-117 overtime loss in Portland on Sunday after previously feeling the effects of the injury in games against the Nuggets and Lakers. The 7-foot Australian big man exited the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation and did not return. A post-game X-ray revealed the extent of the injury.
As a point of reference, Nuggets guard Ty Lawson missed three weeks with a fractured rib earlier this season.
If the playoffs began today, the Warriors (49-31) would occupy the West's No. 6 seed, facing off against the No. 3 Clippers (56-24). Losing Bogut, one of the premier defensive big men in the league, could be a potentially crippling blow, although Golden State was 40-27 (.597) with him in the lineup and 9-4 (.692) without him. Bogut boasts a net rating of +9.1, and the Warriors have performed meaningfully better on both sides of the ball when he's on the court. Golden State currently boasts the West's stingiest defense, in large part due to his presence.
Should Bogut miss the postseason, Warriors coach Mark Jackson will be forced to turn to small ball lineups and/or rely more heavily on reserve center Jermaine O'Neal. The 35-year-old veteran would certainly have his hands full against Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who is leading the league in both dunks and rebounds this season. Jackson's other reserve frontcourt options include power forwards Marreese Speights and Hilton Armstrong. Jordan and Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin are likely licking their lips as we speak.
"[The injury] certainly does not make us a better basketball team," Jackson said, according to the AP.
Andrew Bogut: 107.8 offensive rating | 98.8 defensive rating | +9.1 net
Jermaine O'Neal: 103.7 offensive rating | 100.4 defensive rating | +3.3 net
The loss of Bogut would also break up Golden State's excellent starting five, which has posted some of the most impressive lineup numbers in the league this season. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Bogut have registered an offensive rating of 112.4, a defensive rating of 97, and a net rating of +15.4 in their 800+ minutes together this season.
The Warriors lost Lee to a hip injury early in their 2013 first-round playoff series with the Nuggets, only to go on to defeat Denver and advance to the conference semifinals, where they were eliminated by the Spurs. Bogut, 29, is averaging 7.3 points, 10 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per game in 26.4 minutes over 67 appearances for the Warriors this season. He agreed to a three-year contract extension worth up to $43 million back in October. Prior to signing that deal, the 2005 No. 1 overall pick had played just 44 regular season games over the previous two seasons due to ankle injuries.