When he was in the process of signing 10-day contracts, Drew Gooden made no secret that he intended to sign for the rest of the season with the Wizards. Now that it's the offseason and he's an unrestricted free agent that sentiment hasn't changed. Gooden, who compared his sudden explosion in popularity to that of Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow, isn't even cleaning out his locker at Verizon Center.
"I’m going to be coming back here working out which is the first for any team, any season I’ve played. I’ve never lived in the NBA city," said Gooden, who has played for 10 teams since being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 and lives in nearby Bethesda, Md. "This is new to me. I feel like this is my home. We’ll see what happens."
Gooden, signed initially as a free agent on Feb. 26, appeared in 22 regular-season games with Washington and averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 18 minutes per game. At 6-10, he gave the Wizards consistency off the bench that they lacked with Jan Vesely who was traded six days before. Gooden can stretch the floor to the three-point line with his shot where he shot 41.2% and was a consistent spark in the East semifinals. The Wizards lost in six games to the Indiana Pacers.
"This summer I’m playing the hand that I’m dealt. I’m not going to try to fix any cards. Loyalty to me, I never forget those that have helped me in the past. Ever," Gooden said when asked if he'll give the Wizards first right of refusal to re-sign him. "The Wizards organization definitely helped me and my family this season and gave me a chance when no other team gave me a chance. That’s something I’ll never forget.
"This is the furthest I’ve been since '07 when we went to the finals (with) Cleveland. ... I feel like I had my Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin story this season. Drew Gooden got a little taste of that. Not playing and coming on a team with a 10-day contract and then to right here in front of you guys talking about what we did in the playoffs. That was a long shot looking at it when I was out working out in October, November and December. You wouldn’t know what the future might hold. To be right here doing exit interviews on a team that had a chance to compete in the Eastern Conference finals, it’s breathtaking to me. I’m flattered."
Somewhere, Aaron Rodgers is doing a fist pump.