Andrew Bogut: Golden State would have signed Kevin Durant even if they won 2016 title
As the Golden State Warriors have won yet another championship, retracing the steps of how this team — once the laughing stock of the league — got to where it is right now, is one of the most fascinating transformations.
Andrew Bogut, who was (quite unpopularly acquired) from the Milwaukee Bucks for Monta Ellis in 2012-13, was the one cog which captained the defense and made the offense flow with bruising screens and an uncanny ability to find the open man with a 7-foot frame and massive wingspan.
“When I first got traded there it was seen as a bad trade, but we drafted right and slowly built it up. The change in the culture helped a little bit,” said Bogut, according to Lisa Olson of The Athletic. “Steve Kerr came in and we had an absolutely phenomenal year. It felt like every player we drafted or signed was getting criticism. We all had kind of chips on our shoulder.”
“People forget we weren’t a team filled with a bunch of stars. And mate, that was only a few years ago, and it’s basically still the same team.”
It was also the Bogut trade in the offseason of 2016 that facilitated the acquisition of Kevin Durant, a move that turned an already good team into one that had a chance to engrave its name along other great teams in NBA history.
The Warriors were coming off a tragic 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning an NBA-record 73 games that regular season, but the Aussie big man warns that even if they wound up with hardware, it wouldn’t have changed the course of events.
“Even if we had won that championship, that KD deal would’ve been done,” said a convinced Bogut.
Yet it was Bogut’s trade that facilitated that extra bit of cap space that would allow The Slim Reaper to join.
“Yeah, I should get royalties,” Bogut said with a laugh. “But no. Doesn’t matter, it wouldn’t change anything. I know for a fact the KD deal was done long before I was traded. The Warriors had never signed a top-flight player. That was one thing that irked (owner Joe Lacob). He had to get it done.”
The Warriors were coming off multiple swing-and-misses during their storied struggle to remain a relevant franchise. Drafting and trading Vince Carter and passing on Kobe Bryant are two of the many what if regrets this team has had over the course of history, keeping them from relevance.
Lacob and Peter Guber, the two controlling owners, had to strike while the iron was hot, and they did — trading the aging Bogut along with a young Harrison Barnes with plenty of upside to sweeten the pot, allowing for what is perhaps the start of the next NBA dynasty.