For those who understand context, they aren’t dirty words.
Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut — both devoted to the Dallas Mavericks cause and bound by his own honestly — simply answered frankly about the prospects of him being traded by a team that entered Thursday’s visit from the Suns with an 11-24 record.
"I've been in this league long enough,’’ said Bogut during the morning shoot-around. “I’m an expiring contract. I haven't asked for a trade. But I know in this league with 11-24, I was being honest. There's a chance that I get traded. … The Mavs eventually have to start rebuilding. There's no point bringing back a 33-year-old center if you're in rebuild mode.’’
Bogut uttered words like these in a a radio interview in his native Australia. Somehow — a language barrier, I’ve jokingly suggested! — the intent has gotten misconstrued.
His comments, Bogut said, “turned into a headline that said: 'Bogut wants out,' which is false.’’
Bogut doesn’t want to escape the Mavs; he’s trying to help Dallas escape the NBA standings basement and he wants contention for Dallas, just like Dirk Nowitzki and just like coach Rick Carlisle and just like everyone else who contributed to Thursday’s awful failure, a 102-95 loss to a Phoenix team even more hapless than this one. Bogut demonstrated that by fighting through some knee soreness to play 19 minutes, but his stat line is crummy: zero points and zero rebounds with lots of "subtle'' stuff (which I'll address in a bit.)
What Andrew is allowing himself to do, in a way that may have rubbed Carlisle wrong — “I’m not answering any Bogut questions,’’ the coach said tersely two hours before tip — is to consider the Mavs’ situation the same way you do, the same way the media does, the same way management should.
“Obviously,’’ as Bogut said, “if they can get some picks back and build for the future by trading a few of their veteran guys, I could be one of them. Now, emphasis on ‘could.’ I'm not saying I've gone in and asked for a trade, which I haven't. But I also haven't gone to management and begged them not to trade me. I'm just waiting to see what happens.’’
This is a tone different from the robotic rah-rah we’ve come to expect from athletes. But it shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Bogut desires a fast track outta here — or that Dallas is actively trying to move him (yet; the NBA trade deadline is Feb. 23). Bogut insists he’d prefer to remain in Dallas (“There are some personal reasons for why I'd like to stay here, which people don't know,’’ he noted) and Carlisle, before clamming up, noted, ”He's one of our best players, one of our most productive players. My conversations with Donnie (Nelson) about it, we've talked about re-signing him as a real possibility.’’
Mavs sources confirm this to DallasBasketball.com, though it’s worth noting that Dallas hasn’t offered Bogut an extension, and do not seem inclined to do so.
Why? Maybe because Bogut isn’t the only one inside the AAC willing to let the dirty words “trade’’ and “rebuild’’ float into their minds.
Carlisle might be right about his quality as a player. Bogut on a good team, though, is far more valuable than Bogut on a non-contender. Part of that is his particular skill set Rick thinks he’s a top-six center in the NBA, but I think the things he does are subtle enough to get lost in the muck of losing. And back to his boxscore: He notched two assists, two steals and a block. Maybe that's really useful on a team that's something more than Harrison-and-Hope-For-Help. But here? wo assists, two steals and a block makes a guy a non-entity on a team that's a non-entity.
Part of the reality is he can be “rented’’ by a contender via a trade without hurting that team’s future salary-cap space. … while giving a “rebuilding’’ Dallas team some ammunition that is a basketball generation younger than 33.
You want a first-round pick in trade for Bogut? Or you want Bogut staying here to help a team that against the Suns found itself knotted at 93-all with under two minutes to go in the game but then let Phoenix go on a 9-0 spurt to drop Dallas to a dismal 12-25?
I mean, are we sure there is a point to all of this, this year?
OK, but what about next year? Can the “rebuild’’ happen so quickly that it would make sense for Bogut to stay?
"No,’’ Bogut said frankly about him being in Dallas next year. “If you're asking me today and I had to put my house on it, I'd say no just because if there was an opportunity for me to come back, there would have been at least extension talks, which I'm not bitter about. I'm not mad about. That's just the reality of it. It's the writing on the wall. … I very much highly doubt I'll be back here next season just because I'm an expiring contract and I'm a free agent. I just don't see it."
So Bogut has not asked for a trade, but as he added, “I'm not going to beg them to not trade me, either.’’ As you can imagine, the Cubans and the Dirks in this organization don’t even want to admit to such thoughts in public at this time.
No, it’s left to Andrew Bogut to talk dirty.
“It's been a disappointing year for everybody, myself included,’’ he said. “But it's one of those things.’’
Actually, it’s two of those things:
“Trade’’ and “Rebuild.’’