On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers signed center Andrew Bogut to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal.
While the transaction might not have originally appeared to be impactful at first glance, the Lakers feel as though the former No. 1 overall pick will fit in perfectly on their roster in the coming season for one main reason.
"There was an analytic that the front office ran that said our team last year had one of the lowest percentages in stopping other teams at the rim," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka explained to 710 ESPN Radio broadcast team John Ireland and Mychal Thompson on Tuesday. "Teams would get by us on the perimeter and finish at the rim. So we addressed that with a guy like Andrew Bogut, who can come in and be a paint protector. I think the roster is retrofitted for better defense.”
After spending four seasons as the Golden State Warriors’ starting center, Bogut was limited to just 26 games with the Dallas Mavericks last year before getting bought out and signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he got injured in his very first game with the club, eventually missing the rest of the year.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton has ties with Bogut from his time in Golden State and explained exactly the type of role he will have on the rebuilding team.
"I said, 'I would obviously love to have you," Walton told Ireland and Thompson. "You can anchor our defense, you can pass the ball. The fact that you're a champion around our young players is something that could be huge for us.' … Bogut had other teams that were interested in him obviously, but he chose us.”
Brook Lopez projects to be the starter at center, but given his never-ending health concerns and the wear-and-tear he’s accumulated over the years, he likely won't be required to take on a massive workload. That leaves room for Bogut, Ivica Zubac, Stephen Zimmerman or Thomas Bryant to fill the rest of the minutes at the center position. It’s very possible that Zimmerman and Bryant spend some or most of the season in the G-League, presumably leaving Bogut and Zubac to battle for playing time.
Judging by Walton’s words, the team will be in win-mode from the start of the year, which could mean a substantial role for Bogut.
"Defense is everything to start," Walton revealed. "It's defense, defense, defense, because we want to run. We want to run every opportunity we can. But it's a lot easier to run when you can get stops and you're not taking the ball out of the net … Our focus is going to be on getting that ball, getting it to Lonzo and getting on those wings and running as fast as we can.”
At this point in his career and based on his past injuries, Bogut won’t be known for running the floor, but he could very well serve as the defensive stopper that the organization thinks he can be.