CLEVELAND, OH (AP) – Andrew Bogut has chosen to join the Cleveland Cavaliers, giving LeBron James and the defending champions another accomplished veteran as they prepare to mount a run to their third straight NBA Finals.
Bogut’s agent, David Bauman of ISE, told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that Bogut plans to sign with the Cavaliers as soon as he clears waivers. Bauman anticipates that Bogut will join the defending NBA champions by this weekend.
Bogut was traded at the deadline from Dallas to Philadelphia in a deal that brought Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks. He and the 76ers agreed to part ways so Bogut could join a contender, and he had several teams lining up to add the defensive-minded center.
Boston, San Antonio and Houston were also chasing Bogut hard, hoping the 7-foot center could bring his gritty defensive chops and slick passing to bolster their playoff hopes. Bogut informed Cavaliers GM David Griffin that he planned to join the team on Tuesday night, and Bogut also took the time to reach out to the Celtics, Spurs and Rockets to thank them for their interest.
“The decision was a lot harder than he anticipated just because of the respect he had for everyone he spoke with,” Bauman said in a phone interview with the AP.
One of the great characters in the league, Bogut posted a video on his Twitter feed of UB40’s “Red Red Wine,” a cheeky play on Cleveland’s wine and gold color scheme.
In the end, Bauman said Bogut felt Cleveland offered him the best chance to get back to the finals, where he could face the team that let him go before the season started. He was an integral part of the Warriors’ back-to-back runs to the finals the previous two years, which included a championship in 2015. But Golden State shipped him to Dallas last summer to help clear room for Kevin Durant, and now Bogut may get another crack at them.
Bogut will give the Cavaliers a championship-tested, rim-protecting backup to starter Tristan Thompson, one of the final elements Griffin was chasing to try to fortify the roster before the playoffs begin. With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith currently injured, the Eastern Conference-leading Cavs are in need of some reinforcements as they try to hold off Boston and Toronto for the top seed.
Bogut is the second significant addition the Cavaliers have been able to add this week. Point guard Deron Williams, a teammate of Bogut’s in Dallas this season, landed in Cleveland after being waived by the Mavericks, giving the Cavaliers the playmaker and backup for Kyrie Irving that they sorely lacked.
There were times that the bigger, more physical Bogut was rendered ineffective in the playoffs, particularly when Warriors opponents went small and spread the floor. But the Cavaliers want to be as flexible as possible as they pursue a third straight trip to the finals, and having Bogut in the fold allows them to match up against big front lines, and perhaps try to punish smaller frontcourts when the opportunity presents itself.
Bogut has long been one of the better passing big men in the league, so he should fit in seamlessly with James, Irving and Love — when he returns from knee surgery — on the offensive end as well.
He averaged 3.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Mavericks this season. But playing a supporting role behind Thompson should offer the oft-injured Australian a better chance to stay fresh and healthy when the playoffs arrive.
He will be a free agent this summer, and Bauman said this whirlwind recruitment period helped prepare him for that experience.
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