When the Golden State Warriors reached an agreement with Kevin Durant last July, they had to move Andrew Bogut and his $11 million salary. According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, they gave Bogut the choice of going to the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets, who were offering the same deal -- the Philadelphia 76ers showed "heavy interest," but Golden State didn't want to send the 32-year-old to a team that had no hope of making the playoffs.
A quarter of the way through the season, the Rockets are 15-7, the Sixers are 5-18 and Bogut's banged-up Mavericks are 4-17, owners of the worst record in the league. Given that Dallas appears to be going nowhere and Bogut is headed for free agency at the end of the season, the trade rumors have already started. On Friday, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Boston Celtics are interested and the Portland Trail Blazers might be, too.
Here are a few teams that could try to pry Bogut away in exchange for a first-round pick, with the caveat that the Mavs aren't yet shopping him, according to ESPN.
They've been connected to Bogut for a reason. While they got much better on paper this summer with the addition of Al Horford, and they've been fantastic with him on the court, they are still at a disadvantage every night when it comes to rebounding. Boston wouldn't need Bogut to play huge minutes, but he would be huge boost for its 15th-ranked defense. If there is ever a bidding war, the Celtics' treasure chest of young prospects and draft picks gives them the upper hand on everybody else.
Portland Trail Blazers
No team needs Bogut more than these guys. They're 29th in defensive rating and they're still getting bullied on the boards. After years spent setting screens for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, he would help Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum get open looks, too. With high expectations after a trip to the second round last season, the Blazers do not want to be merely mediocre. The only problem here is finding a pathway to a deal that makes sense -- would Dallas, for example, take a chance on another former Warrior, the injured Festus Ezeli?
It's hard to say that the Cavaliers really need extra help, but if there's an area where they're deficient, it's on the defensive end. They are 19th in defensive efficiency, and when Timofey Mozgov went to Hollywood, they lost their ability to super-size their front court. This isn't necessarily a natural fit because most of their front-court minutes will go to Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye, but if the Mavs were interested in, say, Iman Shumpert and a pick, then they should do it. (Cleveland has already traded its 2018 first-round pick, which does not help matters.)
This makes sense on a number of levels: Indiana has strayed from its defensive identity, Myles Turner could use Bogut's mentorship and Paul George wants to compete in the East now, not later. It would make things pretty awkward for Al Jefferson, though -- the big man signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Pacers last summer, and the presence of Bogut would effectively marginalize him.
San Antonio Spurs
This might be my favorite possible destination, even though it's extremely difficult to construct a workable trade that doesn't involve Pau Gasol. Bogut's passing ability would shine in the Spurs' system, and they badly need somebody to direct traffic defensively if they're going to compete for a title. It seems like a long shot, but it would be neat.
Just how patient is Tom Thibodeau? If the Timberwolves general manager and coach is OK with watching the young guys take their lumps defensively, then no moves need to be made right now -- I would argue his best strategy is to stay the course with Gorgui Dieng next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the front court and Cole Aldrich giving Minnesota good minutes off the bench. If Thibodeau wants to accelerate the process, though, he is not going to find a better rim protector than Bogut on the market. I wonder if Dallas has interest in Ricky Rubio.
Well, we already know that the front office tried to get him recently. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wants them to be a top-10 defensive team, and one way to do that would be splitting the center minutes between Bogut and Clint Capela. There's already somewhat of a logjam there, though, with Nene, Montrezl Harrell and the recently re-signed Donatas Motiejunas all deserving minutes. For a Bogut acquisition to make sense, at least one of them would presumably have to be sent the other way.
Los Angeles Clippers
Well, Marreese Speights wants the Clippers to be more like the Warriors, so this is perfect, right? Yeah, sure, if you forget that the Clippers have already traded away their 2017 and 2019 first-round picks. Bogut would be an amazing backup for DeAndre Jordan, but unless the Mavs are really high on Austin Rivers, the front office would really have to get creative here.