Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Bogut's broken leg leaves Cavs cracked

Published:Wednesday | March 8, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Bogut (6) is helped up by teammate Richard Jefferson (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat on Monday. Initial X-rays and evaluation of Bogut revealed a fractured left tibia. The Heat won 106-98.

CLEVELAND (AP):

Andrew Bogut went from being perhaps the final puzzle piece to another missing one for the Cavaliers. The champions remain incomplete. Just an hour or so after saying how excited he was to be joining one of the league's deepest teams, Bogut broke his left leg after playing just 58 seconds in his Cleveland debut on Monday night, an injury that could force the Cavs to resume their search for a big man.

Bogut had just been welcomed with a roaring ovation by Cleveland's crowd when his shin banged into the knee of Miami's Okaro White in the first minute of the second quarter. Bogut immediately knew his leg was broken, and LeBron James said he heard Bogut's bone crack on the collision.

As Bogut was helped from the floor, Cavs general manager David Griffin could barely watch as his latest acquisition hobbled into the locker room.

"It happened so quick," said All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who knows about the suddenness of injuries after breaking his kneecap in the NBA Finals two years ago. "Adversity, it can come in waves. It can come just at the moment, and that's what happened with Bogut."

Bogut's injury came at the end of a day when the Cavs appeared closer to whole than they've been in months.

At the team's morning shootaround, All-Star forward Kevin Love did agility and shooting drills and appeared to be closer to a return than the projected six-week time frame the Cavs announced when he underwent knee surgery on Valentine's Day.

And then there was J.R. Smith playing in a vigorous 3-on-3 game before the Cavs' 106-98 loss to the Heat. Smith, who has been out since December 20 after badly breaking his thumb and undergoing surgery, may be just a few days from making his return.

 

Last move

 

Bogut's signing, which came just days after the team locked up free agent and three-time All-Star guard Deron Williams for the remainder of the season, was supposed to be the last move the Cavs needed to make before the playoffs.

Cleveland have needed a rim-protecting big man all season, and the massive Bogut was projected to give the Cavs more than that. The 32-year-old is a gifted passer with postseason savvy and was motivated to get back to the Finals for a possible shot at the Golden State Warriors, the team he won a ring with in 2015 but discarded him last summer to make room for Kevin Durant.

It's premature to say how long Bogut will be out, and the initial diagnosis of a fractured tibia doesn't provide any time frame because it's not known if he shattered the bone or chipped it.