When Andrew Bogut was able to negotiate a buyout with the Philadelphia 76ers after being traded there from the Dallas Mavericks before the trade deadline, he became one of the most sought-after free agents on the market.
Due to his size, basketball IQ and past success on the Golden State Warriors over the past couple of seasons, Bogut had a number of teams interested in landing his services.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, with arguably the clearest path back to the NBA Finals, won out and were able to sign their former foe.
When news broke that Bogut would make his Cavaliers debut on Monday night against the Miami Heat, a number of questions arose.
Would he receive ample playing time? Would he see time with the first or second unit? What kind of rotational fit would he be for the best team in the East?
However, just a couple minutes into his debut, something extremely sad and unfortunate happened.
Bumping knees with Heat forward Okaro White, Bogut fractured his left tibia. After he laid on the ground for a few minutes, he was eventually helped off the court and headed to the locker room.
The team announced that he will be out indefinitely as a result.
Here is another angle of the point of impact.
As you can see, Bogut bit on the pump-fake and attempted to slide horizontally in front of White in order to cut off his lane to the basket, but simply couldn’t get over in time, bumping knees in the process.
After the game, LeBron James reacted to the injury and revealed something shocking.
“As soon as the collision happened, I heard the break,” LeBron admitted. His tone was also pretty somber, considering the fact that the team will have to deal with a big “what if” from now through their Playoff run.
If they struggle, how would Bogut have possibly helped the situation? If they are upset, would Bogut have played a role in preventing it? If they go down in the Finals, what would Bogut’s interior presence have done?
Of course that’s assuming that Bogut will be out for the rest of the season, which by all indications he will be.
With Kevin Love slated to return in a few weeks, the Cavaliers will regain an All-Star talent, but Bogut would have been a luxury, especially in the Playoffs, where he has proven to be a force in recent years.
To add insult to injury, the Cavs lost the game 106-98 and fell to 42-20 on the season, clinging onto the first place spot in the Eastern Conference by only a few games over the Boston Celtics.
What might Bogut’s impact have been? We might never find out, especially if he suits up somewhere other than Cleveland next season.