The trade for forward Jared Dudley helped offset the loss of free agent Paul Pierce. It also provided the Washington Wizards with a coveted perimeter shooting power forward option, otherwise known as a stretch-4. Ideally, another candidate is added to the 15-man roster. With only two current slots remaining, space is limited.
At the moment, the 6-foot-7 Dudley, a small forward who can play the 4-spot, is the only one on the roster. Maybe Otto Porter serves in this role someday, but let's see him bulk up first. Free agent Drew Gooden is the obvious candidate seeing as the veteran was really the only player Washington used in this capacity during the regular season.
Unless other NBA teams actively pursue Gooden, there is perhaps one reason to hold off re-signing him quickly.
Gooden's candidacy is clear. Unlike the other interior options on the roster -- Nene, Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries --, he has a proven outside touch. Part of Washington's playoff rotation this past season, he shot 39 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season yet rarely forced the action. The 6-foot-10 forward can bang inside. At times, he grabbed rebounds at a prolific pace. What Gooden lacks in true rim protection and quickness defensely he makes up for with veteran savvy.
However, Gooden turns 34 in September. That alone doesn't change perceptions. It's just that Nene, Gortat and Humphries are also over 30. Now, DeJuan Blair is 26, but he only played in 29 games last season.
Aaron White, Washington's second round selection in the 2015 NBA Draft, will be a mere 23 when training camp tips off in September. The 6-foot-8 forward from Iowa is currently part of the Wizards' group prepping for the upcoming Las Vegas Summer League. He also possesses the traits for a stretch-4 role on the NBA level.
During his senior season, White averaged 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals while leading the Big Ten in free throw attempts. After laboring from distance during his first three seasons, White shot 35.6 percent (21 for 59) on 3-point tries last season. DraftExpress.com' pre-draft profile cited White's high-end efficiency and ability to score without having the ball in his hands consistently. The Wizards, led by John Wall, were at their best offensively last season when the ball moved.
"I love this fit for me,"White said following Monday's practice. "Their style fits in my style. it should be a good match."
Asked which of skills could translate quickly to the NBA level, White responded, "I think versatility, being able to spread the floor with my shot. I think I'm a smart player. I know how to read the game, to feel what needs to be done. Just little things. Using my IQ to my advantage."
Learning to effectively use his skills at the NBA level, that likely takes time. That's likely why White spends his first season of professional basketball overseas and why his Summer League performance probably doesn't impact any short-term thinking by the Wizards. That Gooden is a plug-and-play option is why logic suggests he returns for another season.
There is no rule against keeping both, but White would actually have a chance to play elsewhere. He'd just be a towel-waver sitting at the end of the bench in Washington. The D-League is an option, but he would count against the 15-man NBA roster.
Bottom line is the Wizards know what they're getting from Gooden. Because they don't know exactly what they're getting from White, there is a tiny chance they wait on signing any free agent big man so they can find out.
Either way, the Wizards could use another shooter, especially one with size.