THE devastating leg injury to Australian Boomer Andrew Bogut has left his immediate future up in the air.
Could it open open the door for a stint in the NBL?
If the Cavaliers don’t waive Bogut — as is a possibility — he will be out of contract at season’s end, leaving him free to play wherever he wants.
The injury — a fractured left tibia, suffered just 58 seconds into his Cleveland Cavaliers debut — was felt around the NBA yesterday.
And, while there is talk he could miss four to six weeks and make it back for playoffs, the lay-off could give the 32-year-old an opportunity to ponder his future.
While his combination of size, passing ability and defensive prowess will still make him a coveted commodity in NBA circles, is it time for him to come home at season’s end while there is still something left in the tank?
The man himself previously affirmed his desire to play in the NBL
“Definitely a pipe dream, fairytale story, would be to play a season in Australia before I retire,” Bogut said in 2015.
“But it all depends on the body and how that feels, and at what age and mindset I’m in.
“I definitely wouldn’t see anything wrong with coming back here and trying to help the game that brought a lot to me and my life.”
TALE OF THE TAPE: BOGUT’S SHOCKING INJURY HISTORY
Bogut almost stepped onto an NBL court during the NBA lockout of 2011. With the US competition shut down, Bogut was on the cusp of signing a deal with the Sydney Kings and would have played, but the insurance policy was unable to guarantee his $39 million NBA contract.
A return to the NBL would — provided he remains uninjured — allow him to play a larger role at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, when he will just shy of age 35, after hopefully leading Australia at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year.
NBL clubs rarely play more than twice a week and there can often be four or more days between games, giving his ailing body much-needed rest and recovery time.
Not to mention the buzz the big man would create for a competition that is already riding a huge wave on the back of record attendance.
Under the NBL’s cap rules, only the first $150,000 of a marquee player’s deal is counted under the salary cap. You would imagine Bogut would command considerably more, but there are teams that could find the room.
Raised in Dandenong and Endeavour Hills in Melbourne’s southeast, Bogut has strong ties to home, with a basketball academy (and a factory packed with muscle cars) in Carrum Downs.
The former No.1 draft pick and NBA champion has amassed a fortune estimated at more than $100 million.
Across 12 seasons with Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas and Cleveland, he has achieved as much on the US stage.
He may even win a title in Cleveland this year, but still, a hero’s return home awaits.