Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has another decision to make: does he go out and sign another veteran free agent big man like Larry Sanders or Anderson Varejao and pay more salary and luxury taxes, or does he leave his roster as is?
That decision is at hand because the Andrew Bogut era in Cleveland lasted a grand total of 58 seconds.
The respected and popular 7-foot, 260-pound center broke his left leg less than a minute into his Cavs debut Monday when his shin collided with the knee of Miami’s Okaro White as the two were going in opposite directions.
Bogut was helped to the locker room by teammates Tristan Thompson and James Jones and, though the Cavs provided no official update Tuesday, is done for the season.
“It sucks,” point guard Kyrie Irving said after the Cavs’ third loss in four games. “Understanding how excited he was to be here, he was getting out there — it kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit because I think he knew (it was broken) right away. We’re just hoping he gets better. Obviously, it’s just terrible.”
Bogut, a 12th-year pro, was being counted on to provide the Cavs with their first legitimate center of the season and serve as a backup to starter Thompson, depending on matchups.
Now, Griffin must decide whether to cut Bogut, eat his salary and bring in someone like former Cavs fan favorite Varejao, whose hustle is legendary but whose game has declined and isn’t a true center, or Sanders, who has an abundance of talent but hasn’t played since early in the 2014-15 season.
Either way, the defending champion Cavs remain confident they have enough to defend their title.
“Two losses to the Heat (in three days) — obviously we didn’t play our best — but that doesn’t mean we start to question who we have in this locker room,” said Irving, who sat out the loss in Miami on Saturday along with LeBron James.
“David Griffin did an unbelievable job with the pieces that we do have. This is probably the best group I’ve played with since I’ve been in the league, and that’s hands down — talent, all around. I’m definitely still confident in our guys. Always will be.”
After struggling through a 7-8 January, the Cavs went 9-2 in February but are just 1-3 in what will be a very tough March.
Cleveland begins a three-game road trip Thursday in Detroit that will include stops in Orlando and Houston, returns home for two games, then will play four straight on the road. Overall, the Cavs will play 17 games in March, 12 of them on the road.
“It’s not going to be easy,” James said. “We know that. As we try to get guys back, we’re one of the few teams that has had to play with a lot of their guys out and try to figure it out, which is not an excuse. ... But we’ll figure it out and get back to playing the basketball that we played in February.”
The Cavs have not only been minus two starters in shooting guard J.R. Smith, who has begun working out and could return soon from a fractured right thumb, and Kevin Love, who did some on-court work Monday morning and should be back by April, they’ve also been incorporating new players like Derrick Williams, Deron Williams and, for 58 seconds, Bogut.
The Australian-born center, in fact, never even had an opportunity to practice with his new team.
“Adversity can come in waves,” Irving said. “It can come just at the moment, and that’s what happened with ‘Bogs.’ We weren’t playing that great to begin with, and when you have something like that happen, like I said, it takes the wind out of your sails, lowers the energy level.
“But we’ve still got to play through it. This group, we still have a lot more to learn about one another, about the energy level that we have to play at every single night, and we will do that. That’s the great part of having other great pieces that are ready to step in.”
It’s now up to Griffin to decide whether he wants to bring in one more piece or rely on the talent the 12-deep Cavs already have accumulated.
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