The Dallas Mavericks have struck a deal with unrestricted free agent Drew Gooden to make use of some of the money they got back when Orlando matched their offer sheet earlier this month to restricted free agent Marcin Gortat.
Gooden announced via his Twitter feed shortly past midnight Saturday that he is signing with the Mavericks. “Dallas here I come,” he wrote. In response, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted: “Welcome Drew.”
Sources with knowledge of the deal told ESPN.com that Gooden is receiving a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $4.5 million with incentives that will likely take it beyond $5 million by season’s end. A formal announcement of the signing is expected Monday or Tuesday.
How To Judge?
How should we judge this signing?
- Should we compare it to other MLE or near MLE signings this summer?
- Should we compare Gooden against Gortat?
- Should we compare Gooden against the remaining free agency options?
- Should we compare Gooden against the departed Brandon Bass?
- Should we analyze how well Gooden fits in Dallas? And how much he improves the Mavericks?
I think we should largely ignore whatever came before, and instead focus on the free agency options available to Dallas after the Marcin Gortat deal fell through.
Dallas’ Free Agent Options
Free Agents Signed Since Gortat
The only substantial contract given out since Marcin Gortat’s offer sheet was matched by Orlando, was the Blazers recent signing of Andre Miller. The rest of the deals offered were under $2 million, to players like Rasho Nesterovic and Matt Barnes.
The Raptors offer to Jarrett Jack was made prior to Orlando’s decision. Also, Marquis Daniels who’s contract is not yet defined.
Remaining Free Agents
That leaves the remaining free agents of which Dallas could choose from — main names who could be acquirable with the MLE are — Allen Iverson, Raymond Felton, Ramon Sessions, Glen Davis, Linas Kleiza, Nate Robinson.
How does Drew Gooden compare to those options?
I think Gooden compares favourably to those options.
With Jason Kidd on board for three more years, I don’t see significant value in going after one of the three/four small guards on that list. Not with Jason Terry also on the books, not to mention JJ Barea. Allen Iverson could have been a somewhat interesting choice, but more different than better in comparison with Drew Gooden.
I think Gooden is a better player than Glen Davis so he compares well there too.
Linas Kleiza gives me pause, I would have rathered the Mavericks had of signed Kleiza than Gooden. Kleiza is a legitimate 15 points, 6 rebounds per game type of threat from the small forward position. He can also play the four in some small ball lineups. For a Mavericks team in need of more scoring from the wing, and more shooters overall, Kleiza could have been a good get for them.
The only drawback to Kleiza is that the Mavs likely would have needed to offer more years than they gave to Gooden.
Which brings us to another question, is Kleiza worth hurting the Mavericks 2010 cap space?
I don’t think there’s any clear answer to that question. It depends on so many other moves which Dallas may or may not make in the time being. It could easily go either way.
I don’t mind the Mavericks passing up on Kleiza in favour of Gooden in order to keep their 2010 free agency options.
How does Gooden compare to Brandon Bass?
I would prefer Bass over Gooden due to the defensive qualities of both players. Bass is a very good defender, while Gooden is a poor one, which I think is very important to Dallas because of Dirk’s flaws defensively.
Drew Gooden has the better post game and a more varied way of scoring as a result. However, Brandon Bass is a much more efficient scorer, has a better jump shot, and is more fluid + intelligent overall offensively. Ergo, I think Bass is the better offensive player.
Drew Gooden is a lot better on the backboards though. Gooden has averaged around 10 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career, while Bass has only averaged 8.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. Big difference here for Gooden.
To conclude, I’d prefer Bass over Gooden largely due to his defensive ability.
Is there any other reason(s) to choose Gooden over Bass?
Yeah, similar to Kleiza … Bass would have taken more years than Gooden which would have cut into their 2010 free agency options.
So if Dallas choose Gooden ahead of Bass because Drew was willing to sign a one year deal, then that’s a fine reason.
The two players don’t compare. Gortat is quite simply in a whole other stratosphere as a basketball player, and as a fit for the Mavericks. He would have been a much better signing than Gooden, but that’s not saying much because at the MLE he was grossly underpaid relative to his talent.
Quick word on Gortat
The Mavericks were right to go after Gortat. They stood a good chance of stealing him away for the contract they offered, but unfortunately they didn’t.
Because of their choice to make a run at Gortat, they lost out on other free agents but it was a worthwhile risk to take because of Gortat’s quality and the likelihood of Orlando letting him leave.
Ergo, we shouldn’t judge the Mavs harshly for missing out on the following list of players.
Other MLE options
Here’s a list of players signed for $4 million to the MLE prior to Gooden’s signing — Ron Artest, Trevor Ariza, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia, Chris Andersen, Brandon Bass.
At first glimpse, all those players would have added more to the Mavericks … than I expect Drew Gooden to add.
There were also three wings signed for around $3 million apiece — Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker and Grant Hill — The Mavs likely couldn’t have gotten Grant Hill, but they would have had a chance of stealing the other two away from Cleveland.
Would they have been a better choice for the Mavericks?
Yeah, I would have preferred to have seen that. I think those players would have providing valuable depth on the wing, and allowed the Mavericks to play small ball lineups more effectively.
The Mavs will use two main types of lineups
- Kidd – Howard – Marion – Dirk – Dampier
- Kidd – Terry – Howard – Marion – Dirk
How does Drew Gooden fit into either of these lineups?
If you slot Drew Gooden into the big lineup instead of Dampier — Firstly, the Mavericks interior defense would take a large hit and that’s the main story here. They’d be able to retain a lot of their rebounding prowess, and they’d improve offensively. The Mavs’ wings troubles with their jump shots, and lack of passing ability, would cause some problems offensively though.
Dallas could also use Gooden in the small ball lineup but they’d lose a huge amount of talent/production with one of Marion or Nowtizki sitting on the bench. They’d also lose a matchup advantage, and a huge amount of athleticism if Gooden was at the four.
Drew Gooden doesn’t look like much of a difference maker alongside the Mavericks starters. He will be a good backup for them but he’ll likely play more in the second unit. That would have him playing a role similar to the one he played in San Antonio.
With a full training camp and full season ahead, Gooden will earn more minutes in Dallas in this role than he did in San Antonio.
My biggest concern with Gooden’s fit
As I alluded to in the Bass comparison, it’s Gooden’s defense.
The Mavericks two starting big men frmo last season, Dirk and Dampier, are both poor screen and roll defenders and that causes their defense a lot of problems. They also lack mobility and don’t react quickly enough in help defensive situations. Drew Gooden shares these flaws and makes the situation worse for Dallas.
With Gooden, Dirk and Dampier likely to combine for 75+ minutes next season … the Mavs screen and roll defense, and their interior defense to a lesser degree, looks shaky.
The Virtue Of A One Year Contract
#1 — It allows the Mavericks to maintain their flexibility for free agency in 2010. This could allow the Mavs to make a major signing next summer.
Considering the Mavericks other options in free agency this summer … it looks like Dallas will be much better off to wait for next offseason to spend their money.
#2 — It gives Dallas another expiring contract to include in possible trade discussions this season. Drew Gooden is also a good player, someone who can help a club, and be useful from a talent standpoint as well as a contract standpoint (expiring deal).
Yeah, I think it’s a good signing for Dallas. They had limited options and Drew Gooden was one of the best options left on the table, and he helps boost their trading + free agency options over the next 12 months due to his contract situation.
I don’t see Gooden as much of a difference maker for the Mavericks though. I think his lack of defensive qualities makes him a poor fit alongside Dirk and Dampier. Still, he’s a good offensive player + rebounder so he can add some value to the Mavericks rotation.