OAKLAND — Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said he’s not sure whether Festus Ezeli or Andrew Bogut will start at center on Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors. But in another example of why this whole thing just keeps working and plugging along for Golden State, to the tune of an 11-0 record, Bogut couldn’t care less if he’s on the floor for tip-off tomorrow at Oracle.
That might not have been the case a few years back. But we’re here and now and Bogut isn’t as high-maintenance as he used to be. And that’s a good thing for the Warriors.
“Oh, hell, yeah,” Bogut replied when asked if he would have handled the uncertainty differently earlier in his career. “You’re trying to get paid early in your career. That’s the genuine good thing about being on this team. Everyone is kind of in their second, third, four year or second or third contract. When you’re a young fellow, being drafted and going to a team, you obviously want to play minutes. You want to play 30 minutes, you want to start and you want to establish what you can do.”
Bogut could have been describing himself, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, Mo Speights or even Brandon Rush, all of whom come off the bench for the Warriors. Whether it was by general manager Bob Myers’ precise design or whether it came with a little bit of luck, the Warriors have some players on the downside of their careers who are absolutely, positively OK with sharing the load and taking less of a role.
“Eight, nine, 10 years in the league, that ego, that stubbornness should go away from the sake of the team, for the sake of a championship,” Bogut said. “I alway struggle seeing a guy who in Year 10, 11 or 12 of their career, and it’s a little bit past them, maybe, they still want to play 45 minutes a game and it’s not good for the team. You’ve got a better chance of winning games by limiting how many shots you take or whatever it is — giving up something for the greater good of the team. The Warriors are a prime example of that with the guys we have coming off the bench and mix of guys we have.”
Bogut, Livingston, Iguodala, Barbosa and Speights all have had bigger roles at other junctures of their careers. Maybe if this group were together two years ago or two years from now, things would be different. But again, right now, where everyone seems to be, is exactly the right place.
Klay Thompson missed Saturday’s game against the Nets with a back issue, Draymond Green didn’t practice Monday so his status is up in the air for Toronto and we don’t know who will start at center for Golden State. It matters not.
“We don’t really get it from one person,” Livingston said. “It’s more getting it from multiple players and kind of making up for it as a team. Obviously Klay provides a lot with his presence, but it’s more so just about being next man up.”