Australian basketball star Andrew Bogut hasn’t ruled out a return to the NBA if the 2020-21 NBL season doesn’t go ahead.
Adrian Arciuli

2 Jun 2020 - 4:06 PM  UPDATED 2 Jun 2020 - 4:06 PM

Bogut spoke extensively with SBS Sport reporter Adrian Arciuli following his decision not to re-sign with the Sydney Kings. 

Adrian Arciuli: You’ve decided not to re-sign with the Sydney Kings and are reassessing your basketball future - how did you come to reaching that decision?

Andrew Bogut: "It’s a pretty easy one. There are just too many unknowns right now. Not just in the basketball community but around the world.

"I wasn’t going to commit to something half-assed and not know what’s in the other end.

"I thought it was best to hit pause for now and reassess around about the new year to see hopefully that things are back to normality and we can get on with it.

"If not, at least I’ve got the option to keep idling.

AA: Is it more of a procedural thing? Or did you have to decide whether to re-sign with the Sydney Kings or not?

AB: "No one pressured me to do it. I did it out of fairness to the Sydney Kings and the club because free agency does start next month.

"Rather than me sitting here with one foot in, one foot out and the club not knowing where I’m at, so they can’t act accordingly with recruiting, signing and the salary cap.

"I didn’t want to have that pressure of every week having to call and say I don’t know yet.

"I just thought, why don’t I just sit idle right now for myself. I think in fairness to the club, it’s the best thing for the Kings to be able to make decisions they need to make without worrying about me at the other end."

AA: There’s obviously still so much uncertainty around the Tokyo Olympics after it was postponed until 2021. Is that something that will keep you going to finish your career on a high, or do you feel you’ve got much more in the tank after that?

AB: "It’s hard to say man, I honestly can’t give you an answer. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

"Obviously, I would need to play some basketball between the new year and the Olympics for a chance to make that Boomers team.

"Right now, I don’t know where that will be and if that will be.

"The ideal situation would be to play somewhere in January, February, March and April leading into the Olympics and then play in the Olympics.

"That would be the ideal situation, but as of now, the world isn’t in an ideal situation, so it’s hard for me to pencil anything in."

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AA: Do you want to go back and play overseas, or do you want to stay in the NBL?

AB: "I’m not sure man. We don’t know if NBL21 is even going to go ahead to be honest with you.

"If we can’t have a full threshold of fans through the door by December, does the season even go on? I doubt it, I highly doubt it.

"We’re in a unique situation where we play an indoor sport, where the crowd is in very close quarters to each other.

"We need the government obviously to release social distancing to be as it was a year ago and then we have a season.

"I’ll consider looking at that, but as of now there’s just too many unknowns."

AA: Given Australia’s success at dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, does it give you hope that we could have crowds, for example at 30% capacity of an arena? Do you think that would work for the NBL?

AB: "No. 30% of capacity, I don’t think that will pay the rent on the arena. That’s what I mean when I say we’re in a unique situation.

"The NBL is a product that’s grown significantly in the last couple of years and we’re playing in big arenas now. In Sydney, we averaged 10,000 people and Perth sells out at 13,000 to 14,000 people.

"If you’re talking about those size arenas only getting three-odd thousand people, you’re not covering the costs to get people through the door so that’s the other issue.

"It does create a lot of problems for us, but we need to work to try and solve those problems and figure out what we’re going to do. Whether we move to small arenas for the year, who knows."

AA: How do you see the relationship between the NBL and the players right now?

AB: "Everyone’s different. You have guys that are through and through NBL guys that have only played here their whole career. You have guys that have come from overseas, guys from the NBL, so I mean everyone looks at things differently.

"You can’t afford to have things that happen like at the Illawarra Hawks, to continue to happen.

"If you had to pick one blind spot with the league, where it’s lagging, it’s probably in that aspect."

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AA: Have you been talking to anyone in the NBA about the league’s plans to return, especially regarding the proposed hub in Orlando? What is the feeling over there?

AB: "From what I hear, in the next month they’ll be in Orlando and I believe they are going to just take the top eight teams in each conference, just nominate them for the playoffs and finish the season. From what I hear, the next season is going to start on Christmas Day.

"That’s what I’m hearing, but obviously a lot can change and there’s a lot of legislation that must be passed in different states. It’s going to be interesting to watch."

AA: Do you ever consider going back to the NBA? Is that chapter over or do you have a few more chapters to write in your career?

AB: "It doesn’t faze me either way. I had NBA offers right before the COVID-19 pandemic ,where I was potentially going to go back after the NBL season. I was talking to a few teams that wanted me to come over.

"I’m easy man, I’m content with everything I’ve done in my career if I stop today.

"But I still think I’ve got a little bit of fuel left in the tank."

AA: If there’s a second wave in Australia and the NBL season doesn’t go ahead, could the NBA could be an option for you?

AB: "Yes, especially halfway through the season when the buyout and trade season comes up.

"It saves me having to spend the whole season over there and I can kind of join someone late, like I did with the Warriors last time.

"Can try to make a play-off run and then let that phase into the Olympics.

AA: You’ve always been very clear with your views on China. What have you made of the recent strain in relations between China and Australia?

AB: "I think we’re at a crossroad within not just Australia but the western world. I’ve always been kind of sceptical on having all our trade go overseas.

"My dad was in the workforce and you start to see all the skilled laborers these days, they’re all 50, 60 and 70-years-old.

"When they’re gone, we don’t really have a whole lot of young kids that are skilled laborers because it’s cheaper to buy the product from China, than get it made here.