Rusty off a 10-month hiatus from the league after getting amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks last season, Drew Gooden is (back) in D.C. to suit up for the franchise he shunned four years ago.
In 2010, Gooden was acquired by the Wizards along with Josh Howard as contingents in that mammoth-sized, Big 3 destroying trade that sent Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas in exchange. Gooden refused to join the Wizards and just a few days following his arrival to D.C., he was shipped away to Cleveland along with Antawn Jamison. His stint with the Wizards was highlighted with by one shootaround and hitching a ride in Jamison’s car upon his departure, as evidenced by his photo-bombing right knee in the snapshot above.
Explained by Gooden in this J. Michael report are the reasons behind why Gooden opted away from joining the Wizards back in February of 2010. Gooden specifically cited the turmoil endured by the Wizards franchise in wake of the distractions caused by the gun hoopla as well as the team’s commitment to rebuild.
“I just think it was a rough year, not only for the Washington Wizards as an organization that season but for me, too, being on a one-year deal in Dallas and coming into a situation like Washington at that time .. I think the best decision at that time for me was to move on and (president) Ernie (Grunfeld) understood that.”
Gooden becomes a 10-day experiment for the Wizards as a measure to identify his potential inhabitance down low in light of Nene’s MCL injury. He hasn’t played since April 6, 2013 when he was a member of the Bucks.
But what are the Wizards really looking for in Gooden?
Despite his assumed rust and feeble legs via prolonged absence, the Wizards are hopeful Gooden’s brolic 6-10/250 frame can make up for the lost size down low as well as beefen up an underachieving second unit alongside Andre Miller.
As of last season, though used very minimally, Gooden presented some spurts of mobility off pick and rolls and in transition. He’s a solid screener and has range that can extend close to the 3-point line. For what the Wizards need – a space occupier on defense and a scoring option on offense in limited minutes – Gooden should fit the bill.
Gooden should also be in just enough shape to move up and down the court at a reasonable pace, say at the controlled speed of an Andre Miller or someone. Gooden’s awareness will also be observed as a good portion of Gooden’s game relies on the glass and putbacks. The Wizards can be prone to #slapbounds and missed boards so it’d be nice to see someone be more aggressive towards the ball. Remember, the more Drew banging we enjoy, the less Snakey hooks we despise.
Now comes the question of rotations and lineups. Trevor Booker is a fine tone-setter for the front court when he’s quick and active so I expect him to remain in the starting lineup until something falls apart. The Wizards, with 9 bench players who’ve played ample minutes this season, have ousted Glen Rice, Jr. back to the D-League. That makes one less player that Wittman doesn’t have to worry about putting on the floor. The other eight? Well, let’s say half of them will be playing “DNP-CD” musical chairs for the rest of the season. Considering Kevin Seraphin returns from his knee soreness, that will give the Wizards 2 and a half big men to operate off the bench (KS, Gooden…and Harrington).
Here’s a pictorial glance at the transition of Drew Gooden’s busy career, one that was spirited by peculiarity and oddness.
Melodious Gooden ‘O’ Face via “The Piano Man”
And you thought the Wizards acquired enough savvy with Andre Miller.
Drew Gooden, as a member of the loathed Cleveland Cavaliers where he occasionally served as consolation for when LeBron James felt pouty. Also, that God-awful patch of bush on the back of his head (and no, I am not hashtagging #GoodenBush), like a flavor saver for neck sweat.
As informatively noted in the Wizards’ PR memo, Drew Gooden started in all four Finals games for the Cavs in 2005 against the Spurs, losing all four.
Four years later in 2009, Gooden would join the Spurs in March for the remainder of the season. Title dreams? Why not? Reality: Dirk and the Mavs.
Gooden wouldn’t stop there. His “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” rampage continued to backfire after signing to the Mavericks with more title dreams, only to lose to the Spurs.
Gooden would eventually move on to Milwaukee where he spent his last three seasons with little team success, leading up to a forgettable 2012-13 campaign which ended by way of the amnesty chop. Detached, devalued, and discouraged Gooden would only suit up for 16 games in his final season with the Bucks and hasn’t played a game since.
“I see a handful of teams [eager to win a championship] and I believe the Washington Wizards is one that wants to win. That’s why they added me for depth going into the playoffs.”
Time (a week and a half’s worth) will tell how adequate his services are as the Wizards indeed are heading into the playoffs. In contrast to the struggles the younger Wizards players have experienced in trying to fit the mould (peering at you Otto Porter), aged and rusty veterans like Andre Miller and Al Harrington have dusted themselves off just fine and have made significant impacts early in their returns.
Here’s to Drew Gooden floatin’ the same boat.