Drew Gooden is staying at least another 10 days after the Wizards made his second such contract signing official Saturday before they played his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, at Bradley Center. Gooden, 32, insists he's not coming in with a chip on his shoulder after playing only 16 games last season and being dumped via the amnesty clause in the summer.
"The people that have my back the most out there was my teammates out there and my fans out there. ... They really enjoyed me being there and they respected my work that I put in there," said Gooden, who is averaging 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in three games for Washington. "That was the one thing that motivated me to come to work and still go hard every morning."
Gooden was signed in 2010 by the Bucks to a $32 million deal. He was due to make $6.7 million this season and next -- and he still gets that money -- but the one-time amnesty provision allowed Milwaukee to clear his salary from their books for cap and luxury tax purposes. Younger bigs, Larry Sanders and John Henson, made Gooden expendable as he was phased out the rotation.
For Washington, Gooden took a few games to come around. He failed to make a field goal in the first two but had a breakout vs. the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, when he made 6 of 7 shots for 12 points, had three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes. With Nene (left knee) out for another month and Kevin Seraphin (right knee) to miss his sixth game in a row Saturday, coach Randy Wittman needs Gooden's 6-10 frame with an aged but experienced second unit that includes Al Harrington and Andre Miller. The Wizards had a 15-point lead in the third quarter that was whittled to five early in the fourth, but Wittman stayed with his vets.
"We got to thank coach Witt for sticking with us because when Utah made that run. ... (he) let us play through it. We got the lead back up. It actually worked out for us and we started to build a little chemistry with that second unit," Gooden said. "You got a guy like Al Harrington that can spread the floor and shoot, myself included, and Andre being out there being able to distribute the ball, it's pick your poison."
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