OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The playoffs have not even begun and the Golden State Warriors are already dealing with a big blow to their postseason chances.
The Warriors announced Monday night that an X-ray on center Andrew Bogut revealed a fractured right rib. The injury could keep him out for the start of the playoffs – and possibly all of the postseason.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Bogut both said that he’s out indefinitely and gave no timetable for his return. But speaking in a somber tone in his corner of the locker room, Bogut said he has done enough research and spoken to enough doctors that he will not come back until the rib heals, which typically takes at least six weeks.
“I’ve got to be careful, because if it cracks I’m looking at a punctured lung. You’ll see me in the hospital with a tube coming out of me,” Bogut said. “It’s one of those things people have played through, but this is too close to comfort for me.”
Bogut said he first felt the injury when Denver’s Kenneth Faried elbowed him in a loss to the Nuggets last Thursday. The symptoms continued against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, he said, and he took a pain-killing injection before playing at Portland on Sunday night.
Bogut left the overtime loss to the Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter after getting sandwiched by two players. He said he can’t take deep breaths and is pain anytime he coughs or sneezes – let alone tries to run.
“It definitely wasn’t as bad until I fully cracked it,” Bogut said. “I thought I was winded for a second, but it wasn’t going away. I ended up going back in the game for the last possession (of regulation). I don’t know how.”
Backup center Jermaine O’Neal was starting in Bogut’s place Monday night against Minnesota. Jackson said he could slide power forwards David Lee or Marreese Speights to center if needed depending on the matchup in the playoffs.
Last year’s backup center, Festus Ezeli, has been out all season recovering from right knee surgery and remains day to day. Jackson also indicated that seldom-used reserve centers Hilton Armstrong and Ognjen Kuzmic are likely not options.
“It certainly does not make us a better basketball team,” Jackson said of Bogut’s absence.
Golden State’s center is hardly the only one on the team ailing at the worst time of the season.
Starting small forward Andre Iguodala sat out Monday night with right knee tendinitis that he has said is something he will have to deal with for the rest of the season. Lee is playing with a nerve injury in his right hamstring and back and O’Neal has been coping with pain in his wrist and knees.
Harrison Barnes started for Iguodala against the Timberwolves. The Warriors visit Denver in their regular-season finale Wednesday night before the playoffs begin Saturday or Sunday, likely at the Los Angeles Clippers.
But Bogut’s injury will impact the Warriors more than any of those recently rehabbing. He averaged just 7.3 points, 10 rebounds and 1.81 blocks in 67 games this season, but he is among the league leaders in several defensive ratings and played a major role in Golden State’s run to the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Bogut, who missed 50 games last season while recovering from microfracture surgery on his left ankle, was so frustrated at the thought of missing this year’s playoff run that he joked about changing the way he plays.
“I’m going to dedicate the summer to learning how to play while avoiding contact at all costs, I guess, moving out of the way, not taking charges and not trying to block shots,” Bogut said. “All of my injuries have been high-impact injuries. I put my body on the line to try to take a charge or block a shot and, unfortunately, I’ve been on the tail end of them. There are some players in the league who are very good strategically at avoiding contact, so I guess I need to watch them and bring that into my game.”
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP