The Los Angeles Lakers requested waivers on Andrew Bogut on Saturday, just one day before the Australian center's partially guaranteed one-year deal became fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season. By doing so, it enables Bogut to sign with a team of his choice immediately, while also giving the Lakers some roster flexibility as well.
Bogut signed with the Lakers in mid-September, but found minutes hard to come by as the team looked to build around their younger core, leaving Bogut as the man on the outside looking in.
In just 24 games with the Lakers, Bogut averaged 1.5 points, 3.3 rebounds on 68 percent shooting from the field in just nine minutes per night, but most importantly, he showed the league that he was finally healthy again after recovering from a fractured tibia suffered with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.
"The whole goal for me was just to come in relatively healthy from the broken leg, and just be ready to play," Bogut told ESPN in mid-December. "I knew there wasn't going to be a whole lot of minutes [with the Lakers] because I was the 15th guy signed to the roster."
Bogut, now in his 13th season in the NBA, forged his career on being a front court presence - a defensive minded rim-protector, and one of the league's most talented passing big men. Before joining the Lakers prior to the season, Bogut had other suitors for his talents - playoff caliber teams such as the Boston Celtics (who were favorites to sign him early on), the San Antonio Spurs, and his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The expectation around the league now is that Bogut will look to sign with a contending team where his defensive skills and front court presence will be better utilized than by being on a struggling team in the midst of a complete rebuild. It remains to be seen if the Celtics would still have interest in Bogut at this stage, given how well their Australian backup center, Aron Baynes, has been performing.
Another potential landing spot for Bogut is with the team that drafted him number one overall in 2005 - the Milwaukee Bucks. There were rumors the Bucks had interest in a reunion with their former big man prior to Bogut's signing in Los Angeles, and given their lack of depth at the 'traditional' center position, Bogut's defensive nous would be welcomed. They may be a couple of years way from being a championship contender, but it would allow Bogut's NBA career to come full circle.
Still, wherever Bogut decides to sign, it will be hard to see his role significantly increase. In December, he talked about adapting to a mentor role with the Lakers' youth, and helping coach Luke Walton wherever he could.
"Just trying to help Luke out and be an extension of the coach in the locker room," he said. "I've just been trying to mentor some of the younger guys, we've got a really young and inexperienced team that bring a lot of energy and talent, so just some direction is needed every now and then and being one of the elder guys [I'm] just trying to help them in the locker room."
Unfortunately, injuries robbed Bogut of the prime of his career, but he managed to return and contribute heavily during the Golden State Warriors championship winning season in 2015, a year in which he was also named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team. In 2018, however, the best role for Bogut on a contending team may be offering rim-protection in an on-court capacity, while also bring some much-needed veteran, championship experience.
Bogut has played with five NBA teams (Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas, Cleveland and Los Angeles) and has career averages of 9.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks.