OAKLAND – After raising the team’s defensive standard while grabbing 18 rebounds in a win over Brooklyn last Saturday, center Andrew Bogut will return to the starting lineup for the Warriors.
The move could happen as soon as Tuesday night, when the Warriors meet Toronto at Oracle Arena.
After starting the season opener against New Orleans and sustaining a concussion, Bogut missed the next six games. With fourth-year center Festus Ezeli entering starting lineup, the Warriors won all six.
That success was a factor in the coaching staff’s decision to stay with Ezeli even after Bogut returned to action last Nov. 9 against Detroit.
But a change is coming, not that Bogut is pushing for it.
“Look, we’re winning. We’re 11-0,” Bogut said. “Like I’ve said from the start, I’ve been a starter my whole career, but I understand I’ve missed four or five games (actually six) and we won all of them. Guys are in the flow and maybe the starters are used to having Festus there for the first six or seven minutes, and get their rhythm that way.”
For Bogut, that approach goes back to his roots in Australia, where he says the emphasis, even for youngsters, is on winning as a team rather than featuring a specific individual.
That selfless philosophy, for the most part, also applies to the Warriors – who are led by the reigning MVP Steph Curry.
“It’s nothing personal," Bogut explained. "Whoever is playing hot at the time, plays for us. We go small at times, where me and Festus both get benched. We go big at times, like we did last game. So we’re not too worried about it. I’m not too worried about it. I don’t think Festus is too worried about it.”
Interim coach Luke Walton implied nothing official has been decided, but a team source indicated Bogut is almost certain to start against massive Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas.
Bogut, ever candid, conceded that it’s much easier to accept being a role player when you’ve been in the league for 10 years and you’re not playing for a contract. If he were younger and felt the need to prove he belonged in the NBA, he admits there would be some chafing.
“Oh, hell yeah,” Bogut said. “You’re trying to get paid early in your career.”