For the first time since the Milwaukee Bucks made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, they’re not saying no when teams ask if center Andrew Bogut is available via trade.
NBA front-office sources say that the Bucks, who have always swatted away trade inquiries for Bogut in the past, are now listening to pitches for the 7-foot Australian, who is said to be intrigued by the prospect of a fresh start elsewhere after more than two years of injury misfortune and teamwide tension under coach Scott Skiles over the past two disappointing seasons.
This development, though, comes with a crucial caveat:
Sources say that the Bucks, at least for the moment, are insisting that any team that trades for Bogut take on the disgruntled Stephen Jackson as part of the trade.
And that’s what is bound to keep Bogut in Milwaukee past Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline more than his latest health setback, after he suffered a fractured left ankle against Houston on Jan. 25 after landing on the Rockets’ Samuel Dalembert in the lane.
Jackson’s feelings about Skiles and his desire to leave Brewtown are known worldwide, but finding a team willing to take on the outspoken 33-year-old when he’s guaranteed just over $10 million next season is problematic to say the least.
“The price (for Bogut) is high,” one interested suitor told ESPN.com this week.
Sources say that the Washington Wizards are among the teams to express the strongest interest in Bogut, which might be another indication that the Wiz are prepared to part with the enigmatic JaVale McGee, if not before the deadline than during the offseason.
It remains to be seen whether Bogut can return this season after his injury was recently deemed to be healing well and thus not requiring surgery. Bogut was hoping for an injury-free season to reclaim his status as one of the league’s top five centers after he was clearly still hampered in 2011-12 by the severe arm injuries inflicted by his nasty fall from the rim late in the 2009-10 season. The 27-year-old still managed to earn 2010 All-NBA Third Team honors even after the fall thanks to his emergence that season as a top-shelf defensive anchor with a blossoming offensive game.