The Milwaukee Bucks need a divorce with veteran power forward Drew Gooden before training camp gets underway. The well traveled #4 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft has made Milwaukee his home the last two seasons and was looking to plant roots in ‘Beer Town’. Unfortunately, the former Kansas star has been a journeyman player for a reason throughout his 11-year NBA career.
Gooden, who will be 31 in September, is a natural power forward who was forced to fill in at center last year and did an admirable job. Gooden had a solid year overall after playing in only 35 of the team’s 82 games the previous season.
Gooden has three years at $6.680 million dollars per/year left on the original deal he signed prior to the 2010-’11 NBA season with Milwaukee. It’s a reasonable contract for a veteran presence that plays with tenacity and can grab you 7-8 rebounds per game.
When Gooden originally signed with Milwaukee, the intent was to give center Andew Bogut a legitimate power forward to play alongside as Gooden is a proven offensive presence and a big body to help out on the glass and in the ‘paint wars’. The experiment never had the opportunity to get off the ground as both were plagued by injuries during their time together in Milwaukee. Had the two stayed healthy, who knows what would have become of the Bogut-Gooden duo?
Instead of examining what may have been, we must deal with the present situation. Andrew Bogut is in Golden State and Milwaukee is loaded at the ‘4’ and ‘5’with a multitude of younger, more athletic options. This leaves Gooden on the outside looking in. He is no longer a ‘fit’ and a small market outfit like the Bucks can’t afford to pay a player that isn’t a necessity anymore nearly $7 million dollars per/year.
Gooden is coming off a fairly productive season in which he played 56 of Milwaukee’s 66 games, stayed relatively healthy and averaged 13.7 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. He has a well respected jump shot for a power forward and even showed a little bit of three-point range last year.
Coming off a fairly strong season, it’s fair to surmise that there’s a market for a player of Gooden’s caliber. He can certainly contribute to a veteran, contending team and provide depth at both the power forward and center positions.
Milwaukee has plenty of depth at power forward and center with young, raw and hungry players. Ekpe Udoh, John Henson, Larry Sanders and Tobias Harris need to play this year and Drew Gooden, at the moment, is a road block impeding their development and playing time.
The return on Gooden should net the Bucks a future draft pick or a competant wing player. The Bucks also have enough parts to package another player with Gooden to make a deal more attractive if need be.
Youth must prevail and the Milwaukee Bucks organization needs to start building their own potential stars and pieces to the puzzle. It’s time for the Bucks to claw out of basketball purgatory and ensure a promising future for a dwindling fan base. Finding a way to deal Drew Gooden would be a pivotal first step in the right direction.
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