CLEVELAND – Andrew Bogut didn’t make it through one minute of his debut with the Cavaliers.
The team’s new center sustained a potentially serious injury to his left leg in the second quarter and had to be assisted off the floor and to Cleveland’s locker room. The 7-footer was unable to put any weight on his leg as he was helped by teammates James Jones and Tristan Thompson.
The 32-year-old sustained the injury at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter, just moments after he checked in for the first time and received a warm ovation from Cleveland’s home crowd.
Bogut was on the perimeter guarding Okaro White when he went down. He dropped to his back and laid on the floor, grabbing his leg in obvious pain before a trainer got to him.
The Cavs said he will not return and that he is undergoing immediate X-rays and testing.
Bogut only signed with Cleveland last week, turning down bigger contracts and more playing time to help the Cavs defend their NBA title. Bogut received a huge ovation when he took the floor for the first time with 36 seconds left in the first quarter and another one seconds later when he picked up a foul with the kind of physical play the Cavs were planning to get from him.
The Cavs signed Bogut to a $385,000 contract for the rest of the season, adding him to beef up their front court that is missing All-Star forward Kevin Love, who is still weeks away from returning from knee surgery.
Bogut injured his left knee in Game 5 of the NBA Finals last year for Golden State and hurt his right knee in December while playing for Dallas.
Before the game, Bogut was in a playful mood as he discussed his choice to join the Cavs.
“It was a tough decision,” Bogut said. “It came down to two teams, Boston and Cleveland, and I decided to go with Cleveland, obviously. It’s the best opportunity to try to win a championship playing with one of the best, if not the best, players to play the game. It was a tough decision, in a way, because of the history but I can’t control it. I got traded so I ended up having the luxury of having four or five teams recruit me, which is a nice thing to have.
“But at the end of the day, I thought Cleveland was the best chance.”
The Cavaliers are thrilled to have the former No. 1 overall pick, who gives them frontcourt depth, a rim protector and even more postseason experience.
He’ll fit right in with the team’s veteran-laden group.
And, although he might not say so publicly, Bogut is motivated to get back to the Finals and perhaps face the Warriors, who traded him to Dallas last summer when they were opening salary-cap space to sign Kevin Durant.
“You always say you want to get back at them,” he said. “You know, it’s nothing to do with them. I wasn’t making this decision based on Golden State. I was making this decision based on what the best opportunity was. I’m a free agent at season’s end and a chance to get another ring would be absolutely awesome.”
Bogut’s arrival caps a midseason overhaul of Cleveland’s roster, with general manager David Griffin adding Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams and Deron Williams to a team already featuring LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Love.