Andrew Bogut: Why I quit the NBA for Australia
ANDREW Bogut has revealed his illustrious NBA career is over, saying he signed a two-year deal with the Sydney Kings to fulfil a commitment that fell over seven years ago due to insurance.
Bogut was set to sign with the Kings during the NBA lockout in 2011-2012, but the deal collapsed when the insurance company charged an exorbitant amount.
The veteran centre says this experience played a crucial role in his decision to choose Sydney over Melbourne United as his preferred NBL club.
Bogut concedes it was "close", but the Kings' vision on and off the court combined with the challenge of rebuilding the franchise sealed the deal.
After 13 seasons in the NBA, he also became sick of the travel and is determined to settle and spend more time with his young family.
This is why Bogut's Sydney contract doesn't have NBA or European out-clauses.
For the next two seasons, he is fully committed to delivering the Kings success.
"This is my official retirement from the NBA," Bogut told The Daily Telegraph.
"I have no want to go back there, regardless of offers that I get.
"In fact, I don't have an NBA out in my contract.
"I purposely did that out of respect to Sydney in doing this deal.
"I have no goal to return to the NBA and return to the States.
"I've been thankful to be able to play there for 13 years, but this chapter of my life there is no going back."
Why I knocked back Melbourne:
In an ideal world Bogut says he would have signed with his hometown club, Melbourne United.
He seriously considered joining United, but in the end he was sold on Sydney's vision for the future.
Bogut was also excited by the challenge of rebuilding the underperforming Kings, as opposed to joining the defending champions.
He revealed he also didn't want to follow in the footsteps of Golden State star Kevin Durant, who caused a stir when he left Oklahoma City for a star-studded Warriors side in 2016.
"When I was discussing with Melbourne that was always in the back of my mind," he said.
"It kind of felt like the Durant thing all over again, in an Australian capacity.
"I'm not comparing myself to Kevin, but just the situation where you are joining a championship team.
"That was always in the back of my mind if I signed with United, but thankfully I didn't and I'm with Sydney."
Emulating the Warriors:
Bogut says Sydney's recent struggles remind him of when he signed with Golden State in 2012.
The Warriors worked hard to go from cellar dwellers to claim two championships in 2015 and 2017.
Bogut believes the Kings can emulate Golden State's success story.
"It is a very similar situation to when I joined the Warriors," he said.
"We had the talent there, but no cohesion following a couple of coaches and a lot of movement.
"Then we built into a real playoff team, then ended up in the playoffs three years later and won a championship.
"It was so satisfying being part of a genuine build. The Kings have been through the doldrums and hopefully we can get back to that point where we are competing for an NBL championship.
"I'm going to put pressure on myself and the guys. The goal is to win an NBL championship."
Why I walked away from the NBA:
Bogut feels blessed to have played in the world's best basketball competition for 13 seasons.
From being the first Australian drafted No. 1 to winning a championship with Golden State in 2015, he has countless highlights.
"But I kind of got over the harsh business side of the NBA," he said.
"You can be settled and in a house and then the next day you get a call and you are gone.
"The NBA has been more than great to me, but with every road trip I found it harder and harder to leave.
"The NBL has 28 games and it's one or two games a week max and maybe one or two road trips a month.
"That played a huge role.
"I think that also played a factor in me coming home."
This mindset is also why Bogut says money wasn't a motivation in signing with Sydney.
He feels like he has more to offer in the NBA, but is at a stage where he wants to put family first.
"To be honest I believe I could still squeeze out another year or two in the NBA at the veteran minimum, which would be $2.5 million US," he said.
"No one is going to even come close to matching that in the NBL.
"But it wasn't about that.
"At this point of my life it was about becoming more settled in the country I grew up in.
"Being closer to home and having two young kids, one expecting, played a big factor in to my decision.
"I know there are going to be a lot of doubters and I understand a lot of the smaller clubs will probably think, what is going on.
"But there was never a huge financial component for me."
Bogut confirmed his family will also move to Sydney.
"They will be coming up in late August, early July to find a place and sign a lease," he said.
"I'm not a guy that likes to be away from my family. I don't want to miss being around my kids."
Bogut can't wait to help Sydney on the court, but he is equally enthused about the franchise's off-court aspirations.
He praised owner Harvey Lister, Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen and coach Andrew Gaze for their big-picture vision.
"Sydney was very professional," he said.
"Not to knock Melbourne at all, but Sydney put the priority and perspective on things a little bit higher than Melbourne did.
"Both clubs had a plan, but I just felt Sydney and the people they have in the ownership group were more on my wavelength, in terms of basketball and post basketball.
"I also really like what they are trying to do. It's no secret that owner Harvey Lister has invested a lot of money over the last couple of years and hasn't had the result.
"That was also at play just dealing with Harvey first hand and doing my research on him.
"I think it's the most professional setting that I've dealt with in Australia - I was very impressed."
Failed Sydney stint was serious:
Many thought Bogut's blocked stint with Sydney during the 2011-12 NBA lockout was a publicity stunt, but the man himself wants to set the record straight.
"I can tell you I was ready to play," he said.
"I had an NBL contract signed, but the insurance was a huge issue.
"I had roughly 36 or 48 million left on my deal for four or five years and the insurance company said we don't know what we are insuring because you are technically unemployed.
So they pulled out a number for the policy that was outrageous, which would have been as much as the salary cap for an NBL team.
"That is the exact reason it fell through.
"But I had a Kings playbook sent out. They were opening up against Melbourne in Melbourne on the Friday. I had the book sent out on the Monday and I was studying the plays."
As a proven NBA veteran, Bogut knows the pressure to deliver results in Sydney will be high.
He isn't hiding from this reality, but he is insists he wants to be more than a stats-stuffer for the Kings.
"Everyone is going to expect 20/20 every night, but let's just tone that down a little bit," he said.
"I expect to still put up numbers, but I'm here to change this club's culturally and to change to things that have hurt the club in the past.
"I think if your best player can buy in and be good bloke off the court and do what he says he is going to do and fulfil his role. If I'm selfless and fulfil my role, then everyone trickling down from me has no excuse not to be."
Bogut also feels like he still has plenty to offer.
"I think coming back at 33, with what I still believe something left in the tank, was better than coming back at 36 and really not looking that good," he said.
Bogut confirmed he has his sights set on representing Australia at the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"The World Cup next, so hopefully the Boomers lead-up games against the US next year, which is an historic moment for our young basketball nation," he said
"Then obviously the Olympic Games. Hopefully this all ties in with Sydney having success.
"That was the appeal of Sydney. They understood that is going two ways. It is a great story for myself coming home, but it is also a great story for Sydney.
"I'm all for playing for the national team in those two events."
Bogut has always been interested in business, while he has publicly expressed an aspiration to one day own a share in a team.
He revealed Sydney have provided an opportunity for him to play an off-court role at the franchise when he hangs up the sneakers.
"It would be silly not to," he says.
"I want to keep helping the game.
"There is opportunity to be involved with Sydney for the rest of my life, so that is another thing that was huge consideration wise."