Two things about Drew Gooden, one obvious and the other maybe not as much: First, when his second 10-day contract expires March 18, he'll be retained for the rest of the season by the Wizards which is already a forgone conclusion, CSN Washington has confirmed. Secondly, the 6-10 forward-center -- a career 23% shooter from the three-point line -- is showing signs that he can stretch to the floor. And Gooden is so confident now that he's even speaking of himself in the third person.
"My timing is still not there around the paint offensively. I'm rushing a lot of stuff down there. Shooting the ball? That's all I could do the last 18 months was work on my shot," said Gooden, 2-for-4 from deep, after practice Tuesday. "A lot of teams wanted a stretch four, so I'm like, 'I have to re-invent myself.' So I think you guys are seeing a re-invented Drew Gooden.
"I didn't take it seriously enough in my younger years, yet alone I wasn't allowed to shoot threes. A lot of those shots, I was putting myself on the line of getting taken out if I didn't make it. It happened in the last couple of years with (then-Milwaukee Bucks coach) Scott Skiles when he let me, he wanted me to shoot threes, encouraged me to shoot threes. That's where it began. I continued to work, put a lot of time in the gym and its started to pay off."
Gooden, who has appeared in five games for the Wizards (33-30) since he signed his first 10-day contract Feb. 26, didn't make a shot in his first two games but has elevated his play in the last three where he is 19-for-28 from the field, or 68%. He's averaging 13.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18 minutes in those games. The Wizards are 2-1 going into Wednesday's game vs. the Charlotte Bobcats at Verizon Center.
"I was talking to (assistant coach) Sam (Cassell) and he'd said all you got to do is see one go in. There's some truth to that. I wasn't playing any different the first two games I just didn't get enough opportunity," said Gooden, who was on the floor just 13 total minutes. "Now I know once I get out there I've got to be on from the get-go. There's no room for error. That's how I started to pick up my play."
Fifteen regular season games will be left when Gooden gets a contract for the rest of the season, and he'll be eligible for the postseason roster as well. If Nene (left knee) is able to recover fully and Kevin Seraphin (right knee) doesn't have any more setbacks with swelling, that'll give Washington even greater depth in the post. Gooden reiterated that he's all-in. All president Ernie Grunfeld has to do is put the next contract on the table. And that will happen.
"We'll see. I believe in loyalty. The Wizards organization gave me this opportunity," Gooden said. "Why not? Why not stay here the rest of the year?"