"Its not about money," said Bogut sitting under the jumbotron at the Kings home court at Qudos Bank Arena. "Ive made a lot of money in my career. If this was about money, I wouldve gone to China. I had an offer for $2 million, tax-free. If it was about money, Id be gone. You wouldnt be at this press conference. Im about more than that. But I do want to be compensated for what I bring to the league and how I can play …
"Ill tell you this: my vet minimum [veteran players minimum salary] in the NBA next year will be $2.6 million USD. Its much less than that. Its a unique deal."
Then Bogut took it upon himself to explain just how unique it is. He had been linked to Melbourne United, in the hometown where he was born and raised. He didnt want to join them because he didnt want to walk in and join the defending champions. There has also been talk about him sinking his own cash into a second Melbourne franchise team linked to his beloved AFL team, Essendon. Thats been put on the shelf for now. What he wanted to do was invest in Sydney.
'My vet minimum [veteran players minimum salary] in the NBA next year will be $2.6 million USD. Its much less than that.'
Andrew Bogut proving his Kings deal really isn't about the money.
"One thing that hasnt been mentioned is the capacity to be a shareholder in the Sydney Kings," Bogut said, much to everyones surprise. "While Im playing, I wont be in the boardroom with the big dogs, but theres 10 per cent waiting for me when I finish playing, which was negotiated, and a capacity to get to 50 per cent. That was a big part for me: I wanted skin in the game. Ive got two years to see how it goes and if it goes how I think it will go theres no reason why I wont put my own money in."
Boguts return comes at a time when the NBL is on the up after almost collapsing two years ago before Ukrainian-born Melbourne entrepreneur Larry Kestelman bought it for $7 million, saving the day.
Growing weary of the constant travel and uncertainty about his future in the NBA, so much so that he sent his wife and young family back to Melbourne, Bogut first started thinking about a return to the local competition last month when he returned for his grandfathers funeral. Conversations with Kestelman had been vague at best. Then, on Thursday, that changed.
"Just how quickly it came together has stunned me," Bogut said. "I was sitting in the lounge room doing nothing last week. Id had some discussions with Larry and it all came together. I never wouldve thought this would happen this way."
Said Kings coach Andrew Gaze: "I had very little do with it; it happened that quickly."
'I would like fans to acknowledge how big this is. I love it when a plan comes together.'
NBL owner Larry Kestelman
There had been concerns about Kestelmans involvement in the sport just a year or so ago. Was this another Nathan Tinkler or Clive Palmer, whose involvement in other sports had driven clubs into the ground? Kestelman has shown he is anything but. The image has already been cast about Sydney hosting Melbourne in front of a packed Qudos Bank Arena for next seasons opener.
"I cant think of anything better," Kestelman said. "I have four court-side seats here. I cant think of anything better than seeing Andrew playing in the first game in front of 17,000 people. I think Sydney deserves it. I read a story about Sin City. Well, Sin City deserves this sport to be as strong as any other sport. To deliver the favourite son from the NBA who can lead the way for others. To have a successful NBL we need a successful Sydney. This is the biggest market and I agree with that. I would like fans to acknowledge how big this is. I love it when a plan comes together.”
Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald
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