OAKLAND – Andrew Bogut’s career existence changed Monday morning, as did that of Marreese Speights and Jason Thompson and, quite likely, James Michael McAdoo and Kevon Looney.
One teammate’s knee surgery can have that effect, and it’s safe to assume Festus Ezeli’s absence will alter the way the Warriors play and the way coach Steve Kerr utilizes his big men.
The Next-Man-Up attitude of sports teams is a required survival mechanism, a way to cope with injuries that inevitably occur. Coaches don’t have a choice, and neither do the fallen player’s teammates. But even the temporary loss of a reserve can change things, sometimes significantly.
[RELATED: Festus Ezeli undergoes knee surgery]
And that likely will be the case with Ezeli, the backup center who will be sidelined for at least the next six weeks but almost certainly longer.
Bogut, who averages about 21 minutes per game, could expect to see that increase.
“He could play bigger minutes,” Kerr said. “In a game like tonight (against the Rockets), it makes sense. He probably averages 23 minutes, I’m guessing, but he might play more against Howard or some of the other true centers.”
Yet any increased workload for Bogut, whose 7-foot body has been through significant trauma in his 11-year career, comes with a degree of risk.
Speights struggled through the first two months of the season but has improved in recent weeks. After averaging 11 minutes per game – and playing zero to five minutes on 16 occasions – the 6-10 center/forward is now the first big man off the bench.
“If I get more minutes, I’m going to be happy about it,” Speights said. “If I don’t, I’m OK with it. I don’t need that many minutes to affect the game.
"Every chance I get, I’m going to be ready.”
[POOLE: Warriors 'keeping fingers crossed' for Ezeli; Speights gets chance]
Thompson, acquired in a trade last summer, has played in exactly half of the team’s first 50 games. It’s quite a change insofar as the 6-11 veteran started 405 of 541 games in Sacramento. The inactivity, partly due to adjusting to a new system and teammates, is bound to change.
“This is a guy that has started most of his career,” Kerr said, “and we have barely played him.”
Said Thompson: “It’s a situation I haven’t been used to over the years. But I’ve been to a point where I’m always ready. You’ve always got to be ready when your number is called. You see Mo step up when he didn’t play that much early in the season. You learn from those type guys.”
McAdoo is sidelined with a sprained toe sustained New Year’s Eve. His return would help, as he runs the floor well and is active in the paint. But there is no knowing when he’ll be ready to take the floor.
There likely will come a time when Looney will be summoned to play important minutes. The 6-9 rookie underwent hip surgery in August and, after nearly five months of recovery and rehab, has been on the court for only three weeks.
“He’s healthy,” Kerr said, “but not ready to play big minutes.”
This is what the Warriors have as general manager Bob Myers scans rosters for potential new faces. He’s not committed to making a deal, but he definitely is open to the right one.
To that end, even Myers’ daily existence is altered.