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Free Agent Drew Gooden an Answer to New York Knicks Frontcourt Woes?

July 20th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

Most New York Knicks fans want Kenyon Martin back in orange and blue next season. They say he has the toughness, rebounding and defensive ability the Knicks need. Others refer to him as an energy guy, ignoring the fact he only played 18 regular season games  which clearly helped him with having more energy than others on the court at the end of the season. Well, Martin has had an offer on the table from the Knicks to return for next season and instead has decided to look around. Why shouldn't the Knicks do the same? After all, despite not being as sexy of a name to the common fan, recently amnestied free agent Drew Gooden is younger, bigger and rebounds better than Martin.

'00208595' photo (c) 2009, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Drew Gooden is a 31 year old power forward/center from Oakland, California. The 6'10", 250 pound big man was selected fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2002 NBA Draft. He played for Memphis from 2002-03, the Orlando Magic from 2003-04, the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2004-08, the Chicago Bulls from 2008-09, the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in 2009, the Dallas Mavericks from 2009-10, the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010 and the Milwaukee Bucks from 2010-13.

Gooden has 11 years of NBA experience and has averaged 11.8 points, 0.7 blocks, 0.7 steals, 1.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds over 27.0 minutes per game over his career.

To compare, Martin has 13 years of experience and has averaged 12.8 points, 1.2 blocks, 1.2 steals, 1.9 assists and 7.0 rebounds over 31.4 minutes per game over his career.

Last season Gooden averaged 3.3 points, 0.4 blocks, 0.3 steals, 0.4 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 9.4 minutes per game. He only played 16 games last season with Milwaukee. However, per 36 minutes those stats balloon to 12.4 points, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 steals, 1.4 assists and 7.4 rebounds.

Last season Martin averaged 7.2 points, 0.9 blocks, 0.9 steals, 0.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds over 23.9 minutes per game. Martin only suited up for 18 games last season with the Knicks. If you project Martins' stats over 36 minutes the averages change to 10.8 points, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals, 0.7 assists and 7.9 rebounds.

As you can see by those 36 minute projections Gooden averaged 1.6 points more than Martin, the same amount of blocks, 0.1 less steals, 0.7 less assists and only 0.5 less rebounds. He's also four years younger than Martin.

'Darius Songaila, Drew Gooden' photo (c) 2007, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ It should be noted that after Gooden signed a five-year, $32 million deal in 2010 he became an anchor for the Bucks. However, despite appearing in 108 games between 2011-2013 he spent most of last season as a healthy scratch. Both he and Samuel Dalembert simply fell out of favor with the coaching staff.

However, their loss could be New York's gain. The Knicks could conceivably land Gooden for a minimum contract to add frontcourt depth to the team. After all, Gooden has always been a good rebounder and that is something the Knicks desperately need more of.

The Bucks will still have to pay Gooden the remaining $13-plus million on his contract. However, the amnesty procedure allows Milwaukee to wipe that $13 million from their salary cap, including $6.7 million for next season. Now that Gooden has cleared the 48 hour claiming period he's become an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere.

It was clear Gooden didn't fit in the Bucks' youth movement and when Milwaukee agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal with Zaza Pachulia the writing was on the wall. However, that doesn't mean that Gooden couldn't find a home in Madison Square Garden and give the Knicks solid minutes off the bench.

He has a soft touch around the basket and a consistent jumper from 18 feet and in. Plus he'd bring a low post ability the Knicks don't currently have. However, he does tend to be a bit of a ball hog when it comes his way and rarely passes it out.

That being said, he has agility, athleticism and mobility which are three things bigs need to be successful on this level. He is also a top notch rebounder who understands his role as a hustle player.

Unlike Scott Skiles, Mike Woodson is the type of coach to get players like Gooden to listen and buy in to the system and his role in it. If he does that, Gooden could be a tremendous asset to this Knicks roster next season.

This is the part of the off-season where teams with only the veteran’s minimum left to offer start looking for bargains left on the market. Gooden could be that type of player because the Bucks would basically be paying him to play for the Knicks, like the Los Angeles Lakers are with Metta World Peace, and Gooden could resurrect his career with a playoff contender.

Tags: Basketball, Drew Gooden, Kenyon Martin, Mike Woodson, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, Samuel Dalembert, Scott Skiles

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