NBA Rumors: 5 Teams That Should Pursue Drew Gooden

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 26, 2012

NBA Rumors: 5 Teams That Should Pursue Drew Gooden

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    Drew Gooden has yet to make his 2012-13 NBA debut. That time likely won't come until the 10-year veteran can find his way out of a crowded Milwaukee frontcourt.

    Gooden has found himself on coach Scott Skiles' inactive list thanks to an influx of talented, younger, less-expensive bigs. Despite career averages of 12.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, the former University of Kansas star has been relegated to an expensive assistant coach's role.

    With former Milwaukee draft picks Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and rookie John Henson—along with trade acquisitions Ekpe Udoh and Samuel Dalembert—all in Skiles' rotation, Gooden has faced a minutes crunch unlike anything he's experienced in his career.

    Even as the NBA moves further away from traditional bigs, Gooden has the ability to impact an NBA roster. Just last season (before the arrival of Henson and Dalembert), he averaged 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game.

    If Milwaukee can find a suitor willing to stomach the three years and $20-plus million left on his contract, the Bucks may hold one of the more productive pieces reportedly available on the trade market (according to what journaltimes.com reporter Gery Woelfel has heard around the league).

    There are several teams who should be on the phone already with Milwaukee GM John Hammond regarding Gooden's availability.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    2012-13 record: 3-10

    Why a Gooden Deal Would Make Sense

    For the Cavaliers to buy into a Gooden deal, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert has to believe that his team has a chance to compete for a playoff berth in the near future.

    Luckily for Gilbert (and Cleveland fans), the backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters could have this franchise in contention sooner than later.

    As good as Anderson Varejao has been (14.0 points and 14.1 rebounds per game), he hasn't been enough to mask Cleveland's frontcourt deficiencies. Tristan Thompson looks a ways off of consistent production and Tyler Zeller has yet to look like the NBA-ready prospect that analysts discussed leading up to the 2012 NBA draft.

    A Gooden-Varejao pairing could give the Cavaliers the kind of rebounding prowess that would allow Irving, Waiters, Daniel Gibson and Alonzo Gee to continue pressing on their automatic three-point triggers. Gooden could also bring some reliable low-post scoring that Varejao never will.

     

    How They Could Make This Work

    Luke Walton's expiring $6 million deal would bring Milwaukee some needed financial relief. Cleveland has enough cap space to take on Gooden's deal and remain players in next year's free-agent market.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    2012-13 record: 6-7

    Why a Gooden Deal Would Make Sense

    With the arrival of rookie point guard Damian Lillard, Portland has one of the most effective starting fives in the NBA. The problem is that there is a significant drop-off when the starters leave the floor.

    To say that the Trail Blazers' bench is thin is like saying that Lillard is the early favorite to bring home the Rookie of the Year Award. It's beyond a slam dunk.

    Rookie Meyers Leonard is the one promising piece on the second unit. Jared Jeffries, brought in over the offseason to shore up the backup power forward spot, has disappointed in limited minutes.

    Gooden could bring as much in terms of production as he could in terms of mentoring Leonard and, to a lesser extent, LaMarcus Aldridge. He's already working with Milwaukee's young bigs, but having a franchise that throws minutes his way could improve on his natural leadership instincts.

     

    How They Could Make This Work

    Portland has a wealth of expiring contracts along with a team option for next season on Sasha Pavlovic.

Atlanta Hawks

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    2012-13 record: 8-4

    Why a Gooden Deal Would Make Sense

    With the offseason departure of Joe Johnson, the Hawks entered this season a team in transition. Given that Josh Smith holds an expiring contract, they could be in line for yet another transition by the time next season rolls around.

    Between Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson, Atlanta isn't short on intimidating post presences. What they are lacking, though, is reliable scoring from the second team's bigs.

    If Smith bolts over the summer (or at the trade deadline if this season sours), Gooden could be a nice low-post complement for Al Horford. If Smith stays in the fold, Gooden could instantly assume the role of first big off the bench and provide some insurance for the still rehabbing Horford.

     

    How They Could Make This Work

    Atlanta has just three players under contract for the 2013-14 season: Horford, Louis Williams and rookie John Jenkins. In other words, they could surely find a way to appease the Bucks' desires.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    2012-13 record: 8-6

    Why a Gooden Deal Would Make Sense

    The 2012-13 season hasn't quite gone as planned for the 76ers. After parting ways with former face of the franchise Andre Iguodala, Philly has yet to see a single minute from potential franchise center Andrew Bynum.

    Bynum, sidelined indefinitely with the latest round in a detailed history of knee injuries, is exactly the type of player this team could use—equal parts shot-blocker, glass-eater and post scorer.

    While Gooden has never been a shot-blocking threat, he could be Bynum-lite on rebounds and post scoring. He's more than capable of spelling Bynum when the big man returns or inheriting his minutes if Bynum doesn't come back this season.

    Considering that Bynum has made it tough for Philadelphia to extend his expiring contract, Gooden could bring some insurance to coach Doug Collins' post position.

     

    How They Could Make This Work

    With shooters like Nick Young and Jason Richardson already in the mix, perhaps the 76ers could offer Dorell Wright and filler.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    2012-13 record: 7-5

    Why a Gooden Deal Would Make Sense

    The Eastern Conference's surprising playoff contender, the Bobcats have already matched their win total from the strike-shortened 2011-12 season. Perhaps the biggest change for this club has stemmed from the arrivals of NBA veterans like Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Brendan Haywood.

    Gooden could continue building this seasoned contingency and help the younger players believe that this club is capable of playing postseason basketball. Perhaps he'd help fill in the puzzle pieces for Bismack Biyombo or even help Tyrus Thomas rediscover some of his talents.

    His arrival would certainly help the Bobcats cut into their minus-3.0 rebounding differential (23rd in the NBA). He'd form an intimidating duo alongside Haywood or be the interior complement for Byron Mullens.

     

    How They Could Make This Work

    Charlotte holds an expiring $7.4 million contract on DeSagana Diop as well as a $4 million team option on Hakim Warrick. The Bobcats have enough room to part with one of these deals for Gooden and still have enough room to add pieces next summer.