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Warriors finally get big man in Bogut

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POSTED March 14, 2012 8:23 p.m.

OAKLAND (AP) — The Golden State Warriors long search for a legitimate big man has finally ended. Now they just need to wait for newly acquired Andrew Bogut to get healthy in order to see the benefits.

General manager Larry Riley called Tuesday's trade that sent Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for Bogut and Stephen Jackson a bold move that should help the Warriors get out of a rut of one playoff appearance since 1994.

"We were stuck," Riley said Wednesday before the Warriors (18-21) hosted the Boston Celtics. "Do you want to be stuck three games below .500 at this time of the year every year? Do you want to be stuck five games below or something like that? That's where we were and that's where we were going next year if we couldn't do something."

Golden State missed out on opportunities to acquire Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan in the offseason but managed to pull off the deal for Bogut by giving up perhaps its most marketable commodities in the high-scoring Ellis, an emerging power forward in Udoh and Brown's expiring $7 million contract.

The 27-year-old Australian was available in part because he broke his left ankle on Jan. 25 against Houston when he landed awkwardly and might not be able to play this season. It's one of several significant injuries that have plagued Bogut throughout his career.

Bogut missed the end of the 2009-10 season when he dislocated his right elbow, sprained his right wrist and broke his right hand in a hard fall to the floor. The injury bothered him for much of last season. Bogut also missed significant time with an injured lower back in the 2008-09 season.

Riley said team doctors reviewed Bogut's medical records and signed off on the deal and two other specialists were called in to review Bogut's health.

"Everything is moving in the right direction," Riley said. "The progress is as it should be. There should be no reason why the healing should not continue in the proper fashion. That's the medical advice we're operating under."

When Bogut has played, he has played well. In 408 career games, he is averaging 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots. He averaged a double-double for three straight seasons and is a strong interior defender.

The Warriors have spent most of the past three decades without a true, topflight center — perhaps since trading Robert Parrish to Boston in 1980. Udoh and David Lee got much of the time in the middle this season, but that will change next season when Bogut is healthy.

"The bottom line is we were absolutely ecstatic that we were able to make a trade and finally able to bring a big man into this organization, and a big man of quality," Riley said. "Our mandate has been to be aggressive. Let's get something done here. We took a bold step. We know it's a bold step. We're happy about it. We think there are some tremendously good things that will come from this deal."

The trade is the biggest move made since new owner Joe Lacob took over the team early last season and was an admission that the popular, but undersized, backcourt of Ellis and Stephen Curry did not work.

Riley said he would have liked to see Curry and Ellis play with a true center, but when that couldn't happen the Warriors broke up the tandem instead, clearing the way for 6-foot-7 rookie Klay Thompson to take over at shooting guard.

"Now that it's over, the doggone thing didn't work," Riley said. "'We didn't get a 5 and it didn't work. We've heard for a long time that you can't play with two small guards. Well, we've now opened up some playing time for somebody at the 2 that's not a small guard. We're going to be a more traditional looking team."

It will just take some time to see that team with Bogut likely out for the rest of the season and Curry sidelined by a nagging sprained right ankle. Riley said Curry will not return until he is 100 percent and that he will be checked out again by doctors Thursday.

Despite being short-handed, coach Mark Jackson is not lowering his goal of getting his team to the playoffs in his first season. Golden State began the day three games out of eighth place in the Western Conference

"For us, the mission is the same," Jackson said. "We'll work our tails off and we'll find a way to get it done. The objective is for folks on the outside to say, 'How is this bunch of guys doing it. We're a no excuse team. Tailor-made excuses continue to pile up but we're not going to embrace them."

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