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Bucks not thrilled Bogut may play Worlds

Mar 18, 2010, 10:57 AM EST

bogut.jpgAndrew Bogut — defensive stopper.

There’s something I never thought I’d type a couple years ago, but Bogut has grown his game. Give the man his due. In his last 10 he’s averaged three-and-a-half blocks a game to go with his 16 points. Since the All-Star game he’s been the second best center in the East (behind some guy named Howard).

Bogut has become a valuable asset to the Bucks — so much so they’d prefer he didn’t  represent his native Australia in the World Championships this summer in Turkey, according to the fine folks at the Journal-Sentinel.

Bucks general manager John Hammond said Wednesday he has “major concerns” about center Andrew Bogut’s participation in the World Championships this summer in Turkey.

Bogut is under pressure in his native Australia to play for his country in the international tournament, but the Bucks are worried about the 7-footer’s long-term health and protecting their five-year, $60 million investment.

“We’ve made a long-term commitment to Andrew and obviously he’s made a commitment back to us. We appreciate what he’s done for us at this point in his career and think he’s only going to get better and better. We want to continue to monitor his back and make sure he stays healthy.”

This July in South Africa, some major European soccer club is going to lose their star player due to an injury at the World Cup. Millions of dollars will be lost. (It was striker Michael Owen then of my Newcastle United four years ago, that injury left the team mid-table the next season.) The “club vs. country” debate is newish to the NBA but has been a problem in major soccer leagues for decades.

And there is no good answer. Guys like Pau Gasol feel great loyalty to their homelands and wear themselves down playing nearly year around. One side is going to lose out. Already some major stars like Gasol and Tony Parker have said they are taking this summer off.

But in two years, we can enjoy this debate again with the Olympics in London.

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