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'A very rare beast': Bogut's boardroom value at the Kings

Former NBA and Boomers star Andrew Bogut has purchased an ownership stake in the Sydney Kings Matt King/Getty Images

Paul Smith has already changed his email signature to 'co-owner'.

Such is the significance of Andrew Bogut joining the Sydney Kings' ownership group; a development that was announced on Monday morning.

"Very f***ing happy to do it," Smith, the Kings' majority owner and chairman, told ESPN.

"I'm co-owner now, mate... I don't care if [Andrew] owns 0.01 percent, or whatever he owns, he's gonna be treated with respect and have a voice. I want him to have that voice."

Bogut's stake in the Kings is actually 10 percent, and the option to pick up ownership in the franchise came as part of the contract he signed to play with the team a few years back.

The 36-year-old's playing career began in the NBA - winning a title with the Golden State Warriors - then moved to the NBL, where he helped lift the Kings to on-court success as a league MVP. Now, his impact will come from the proverbial boardroom, with the hopes of continuing the franchise's revival.

"We're trying to build the Sydney Kings into what it should be," Bogut told ESPN. "What it was at one point in the 90s, and what it was at one point in the early 2000s.

"We already have things in the works, in the future, that we're working on right now; one being very, very, very exciting if it gets through. It's a higher chance than not of going through at this point, though we're still negotiating it. Once that goes through, it'll set a precedent for NBL clubs and the NBL"

Bogut wouldn't elaborate on what that big development could be, but said multiple NBA players had already reached out to him with desire of also joining the team's ownership group. Less than 48 hours after news of Bogut's acquisition was made public, his value was already clear.

The résumé speaks for itself - Bogut is an NBA champion, was the No. 1 overall pick, and three-time Olympian, among other things - and a global basketball network naturally follows, but when that's combined with someone who isn't afraid to voice an opinion, the potential of being an impactful owner grows.

"This is where I sometimes do get into it with the NBL, and even the Kings when I first got there," Bogut said.

"'Bogut, this isn't the NBA; we don't have that budget'. Well, hang on a second, this isn't a monetary issue; this is a basic organisational issue that has nothing to do with money. Those things irk me. They're things that I changed from day one when I got to Sydney and I think the results, although (we) haven't won a championship, speak for themselves.

"We went from a bottom-two team to a team competing for the finals the past two seasons. That's not by accident. I think a lot of that goes into your off-court culture, your admin, everything you do on a daily basis. I think the network now between myself and Chris Pongrass especially - when going through a coaching hiring process like we are now, when going through trying to find imports, when going through trying to find free agents - I think I add a lot in that capacity, with the network I have over in the U.S.

"I value myself pretty highly in basketball IQ terms and in professionalism, and I think those are the two things we need to continue to have surging in the club."

Though Bogut retired at the end of 2020 and didn't immediately take up his ownership option - the also-podcast host said he was waiting for an in-writing explanation of "what's acceptable and what's not" to say as an owner; that document never came - he's still remained close with the Kings and its decision-makers.

Bogut still often sits courtside at Kings games with Pongrass, the team's CEO, and Smith. Over his time with the franchise to date, Bogut left an impression - and made enough of an impact - that there's already an expectation that his future involvement could last a long, long time.

"He's a very rare beast," Smith said of Bogut.

"People that dismiss him as a blowhard don't understand how deep it all runs and how much thinking he puts into things. I'll tell you this: Andrew does nothing spontaneously; nothing. The man doesn't have a spontaneous bone in his body. He calculates everything. He thinks quickly. It might seem spontaneous but it's not.

"What he's gonna bring is that edge that I don't have, but he's also gonna bring a future. My time is gonna come and go, as far as my involvement with this club. Andrew, I think, has got a long-term position in this club. I want Andrew to become someone who can take over as chairman. I want Andrew to become someone that can lead the club. You need that. No other sporting club has someone - at the age Andrew's at, and the future that he's got - of that calibre."

That sentiment of a long-term vision applies across multiple spectrums. Most pressing is the team's search to fill its head coaching vacancy, a position that is about to have its third person over three seasons.

"One mistake we've probably made, in hindsight, is we need to start getting more longevity with our head coaches," Bogut said.

"We don't want one-and-done guys. But, on the flip-side, a one-and-done guy like [Will] Weaver is a beautiful story for us; a beautiful story for the Sydney Kings, that we develop... one of the best assistants in the [NBA] and will one day be a head coach. The Sydney Kings are on his résumé forever. We love that, but understand we wanna try to have someone that will be here at least two or three years, and if they wanna move on to bigger and better things, we support that.

"We're not a team that wants to hinder guys, and that goes with our players, too... I think that's why we're looked upon by the international community as a destination club, because we're not gonna d*ck you around. We're not gonna hinder your aspirations of being a coach in the best league in the world. I don't think that can be said of all NBL clubs... we support the journey of our players, coaches, physios, whoever it is. If they get something bigger and better down the line, we're disappointed and don't want them to leave, but we'll support it."

It then gets even more broad. Bogut has often voiced his opinion on how growing the sport from a grassroots level can impact a city's NBL team. We've seen it with the Perth Wildcats, and the South East Melbourne Phoenix have also very publicly followed that model.

When Bogut arrived in Sydney in 2018, the team made the Auburn Basketball Centre its official training venue, and each player was aligned with a local association across New South Wales. It was the beginning of the Kings' goal to connect with the grassroots; something Bogut hopes to continue as an owner.

"I'm a Melbourne boy and have a huge network in Melbourne that I can go to, but the beauty of this now is that it's opened up a network for myself in Sydney and be involved in that community," Bogut said.

"I think Sydney basketball needs a shakeup, from the junior level. I think the grassroots is lightyears behind what Melbourne is, even Perth is ahead of Sydney, and I'd even say Queensland has passed Sydney as far as their grassroots development. So, that's a big emphasis on what we're trying to do with the Kings. We're an NBL club and we're trying to win championships, but we also wanna be an elite development pathway for young juniors one day in Sydney."

Bogut still has the option to eventually take up more than 10 percent of an ownership stake in the Kings, but that's still up in the air because he's left the door wide open for others to enter the fray. One thing that's certain, though, is that he's invested - monetarily and emotionally - in building the franchise up, and there's a good chance he won't do it quietly.

Smith said it aptly in a tweet (yes, on Twitter; also extremely apt): the #HoopsCapital is gonna get more interesting.