LAS VEGAS -- Although it may have appeared that the Wizards were going to move on from Drew Gooden as they waited to sign him last in free agency, that never was the case. They just had to put their ducks in a row and take care of other priorities until they got to the three-point shooting big man.
"I don't know. with the business nowadays and my journey throughout the NBA anything can happen," said Gooden on whether the thought he'd return to D.C., after playing two seasons, to CSNwashington.com at Las Vegas summer league. "I think I proved my worth with the organization and the fans. It was a no-brainer for me to come back and a no-brainer for me to sign the deal."
Gooden has one guaranteed year at $3 million, double what he made at the veteran minimum last season when he averaged 5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 39% three-point shooting. His play during the postseason spiked, with averages of 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 46.2% three-point shooting as Washington advanced to the conference semifinals for the second year in a row.
His transformation, from being a hustle player who got his stats in the paint to a long-range threat, has kept Gooden viable in today's NBA where three-point shooting from the power forward spot has become vital.
The Wizards have added Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal in the offseason, giving them more depth and versatility than they've had on the perimeter in a long time. Gooden, at 6-10, fills two voids -- shooting and size -- which is why there never was a serious chance that the Wizards would let him walk. His contract was for the 15th roster spot, the maximum allowed when the 2015-16 season begins.
"We added a lot of shooters now. We got some snipers out there on the wing that can actually knock down shots consistently," Gooden said. "You can never have enough shooters. Jared Dudley provides a different dynamic at the four position being able to play power forward and being able to play small forward. Adding those guys and me coming back is going to be tremendous."
Gooden, no longer receiving amnesty checks from the Milwaukee Bucks, will be 34 when the season starts.
"I've been working out," he said. "At my age, if I let two or three days go by, I start feeling aches and pains. I got to keep the motor running."
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