Andrew Bogut played a mostly forgettable 24-game stint with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2017-18 season, but it sounds like he hasn’t forgotten how he feels about the way Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka treated him during his time there.
Bogut was waived by the Lakers four days before his contract was set to become guaranteed for the season, and he told our old friend Mark Medina of The Mercury News that he felt like he was misled by the team about how the year would go:
“The Lakers told me I’d be there the whole year,” Bogut told Bay Area News Group. “They went against their word and waived me at the deadline. Whatever. That was their decision.”
Bogut did not travel with the Warriors (53-24) for Thursday’s game against the Lakers (35-43), as part of the team’s plan to rest its veterans on parts of back-to-backs. Even if he had gone on the trip, though, it does not appear Bogut would shake hands with the Lakers’ president of basketball operations (Magic Johnson) and their general manager (Rob Pelinka) for a simple reason.
“I was basically lied to,” Bogut said.
Unsurprisingly — given that any such promise would be a horrible look and also possibly considered circumvention — Johnson and Pelinka chose not to respond to Bogut’s allegation, but the Lakers did (essentially) tell Medina that what Bogut is saying isn’t true:
The Lakers did not make Pelinka or Johnson available for comment. But the Lakers maintained they would not have made such assurances to Bogut about keeping him on a non-guaranteed contract out of concern that it could violate NBA rules. Otherwise, the Lakers could have just offered Bogut a guaranteed contract.
Now, who you want to believe here is up to you. Bogut put his name to his words, which would seem to imply a greater degree of conviction in his statements, but ultimately most are going to believe whatever makes them feel better because that seems to be the world we live in now.
But anyway, just taking Bogut’s words for what they are, thinking critically he probably should have had reason to not buy what the front office was selling, because as the Lakers pointed out, if they really wanted him the whole year, wouldn’t they have just, well, signed him for the whole year?
That doesn’t excuse them lying to Bogut, which if true is a bad look for the team. That said, Bogut and his agent probably should have been more skeptical about what the Lakers were saying given Pelinka’s sketchy history with verbal agreements.
Even still, this is a third player just from last year’s roster that has felt somewhat burned by the way this front office has handled them — following strong whispers throughout the year that Brook Lopez and Julius Randle feel similarly for very different reasons — which can’t be a good thing for the team’s reputation around the league.
Now, Johnson and Pelinka have obviously have built a strong enough reputation with stars that stuff like this didn’t matter for LeBron James — and in the interest of fairness and presenting both sides, Rajon Rondo has also called the Lakers possibly the best organization he’s ever played for. So they clearly aren’t doing everything wrong, and maybe the accusations of players like Bogut won’t move the needle for other players who know the Lakers deem them a priority, but Johnson and Pelinka also may have to do some work to patch up how role players think about the Lakers if they want to be able to surround their core with solid help on the margins moving forward.