Well, now feels like the proper time to put in my two cents on the whole Andrew Bogut situation.
While there has been excellent reporting on this, primarily by Rusty Simmons and Marcus Thompson, the first step has to be providing a definitive timeline as we understand it at this juncture.
March 13 - The Warriors trade Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. At this point, the Warriors say that Bogut could be ready for April or the Australian national team in the London Olympics.
April 28 – The Warriors announce that Bogut had successful arthroscopic surgery on his ankle by Dr. Richard Ferkel while also discussing the surgeries for Stephen Curry and David Lee which had occurred earlier in that same week.
At the time, the public stance of the team (which Bogut and his agent signed on to, according to Rusty Simmons, was that Bogut would be ready for the start of training camp just like Curry and Lee, returning to basketball activities in July. According to the Warriors now, the microfracture component of the surgery was allegedly minor and not a part of the original surgery plan. However, the Warriors appear to have claimed a “six-month recovery prognosis” that would end at almost exactly the start of the regular season rather than the start of training camp a few weeks earlier. This discrepancy was not noticed at the time.
October 31 – After not playing in the preseason, Bogut plays 18 minutes in the regular season opener at Phoenix. He plays another 18 minutes against the Grizzlies two days later.
November 3 – Bogut sits for the entire game at the Clippers, which is the second game of a back-to-back.
November 8 – After playing in two more games (11/5 and 11/7), the Warriors announce that Bogut will be out 7-10 days to rest his ankle. He has not played another minute for the team in the three-plus weeks since.
November 20 - Bogut reveals he underwent microfracture surgery in KNBR interview. Nobody notices it at the time.
November 27 – Rusty Simmons reports that Bogut’s surgery in April included the microfracture component stemming from a conversation with Bogut himself. The Warriors come clean and general manager Bob Myers fell on the sword on November 30.
One other thing to note is that starting some time around Media Day, Bogut started saying publicly that the surgery was more complicated than the press had heard but would not give any further details even when pressed on it.
With the timeline together, there are two major problems with what the Warriors did that separately create major concerns and combine to make a substantial issue.
The first problem is that Golden State’s front office willfully and deliberately withheld information in order to avoid some short-term negative press. If we go back in time to late April, the season had just ended on April 26 with the avalanche of tanking. In fact, the Warriors won the coin toss to get the tiebreaker (and thus the pick that yielded Harrison Barnes) the day Bogut’s surgery occurred and the day before they announced Bogut’s surgery. They could have easily put the release out and had it get smothered by the much bigger news about likely keeping the pick.
Withholding information stands as only one part of this issue, as the related component was the rigidity of the timetable pitched at each step in the process.
The Warriors set expectations by deliberately including timelines for Bogut’s recovery in each and every step in the process before the last week even though injuries like the one Bogut is suffering through can always linger and delay full recovery. Thanks to this effort, fans, the media, and the team themselves have been forced to deal with consistent and avoidable frustration by Bogut’s recovery not hitting those unnecessary time benchmarks.
I originally had the theory that phasing Bogut in slowly could actually help the Warriors since his addition should be a massive change on offense. However, when I pitched it to Stephen Curry after the win against Cleveland (which incidentally stands as the last game Bogut played in), he immediately and vehemently rejected it, talking about how hard it was on the team.
Beyond the disappointment and frustration this decision has legitimately fostered in fans, the other major frustration here is that the deception had such a narrow and short-term reward. The Warriors have fantastic fans that have supported the team in terms of attendance despite their well-documented futility over the last two decades regardless of who the owners are. There obviously would have been some decrease in season ticket purchases by providing the proper timeline, but a legitimate estimation that Bogut would return for the regular season would have likely minimized the damage.
As such, the financial rewards were relatively small. The rewards in terms of positive attention are even more short-sighted because the negative press would have come at a time when very few Bay Area fans were focused on the team and plenty of time and news cycles to “win” between then and when press actually matters. By trying to paper over a small problem, they just time-shifted the heat to a time when basketball matters in the Bay Area and made a needless mountain out of a molehill.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, their decision-making here has had effects substantially more important than any PR win or loss. The team putting out timelines put unnecessary pressure on a potential star player in a way that could end up being detrimental to his health and the team’s success. While none of us can know whether playing Bogut those 18 minutes per game over three contests set back his recovery, it seems awfully unlikely that it helped the process. After all, time spent prepping for on-court activities and actually playing in games totally changes the recovery process for those days and likely those immediately before and after.
It also appears from Rusty Simmons’ reporting that the expectations wore on Bogut, who admitted that the clarification “makes life much easier, because there's no pressure on me to come back right now." Putting that kind of physical and mental strain on a player who you want to be a major force on the team and also re-sign with the organization this coming summer for the minimal gain the Warriors received proves wholly indefensible.
Warriors' management, so clearly obsessed with how their fans and the media view them should have known better and the fans, the team, and most importantly Andrew Bogut clearly deserved much better.