Magic Talk With Mavs About Gooden

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Dallas Mavericks have reportedly joined the throng of teams lining up to get Drew Gooden, whom apparently the whole world knows will soon be traded. The Mavs have competition from the Cavs, Wolves, and Warriors for Gooden's services. Dallas would probably be looking to unload one of their new-found expensive contracts in either Jerry Stackhouse or Christian Laettner. Orlando may need to include Andrew DeClercq to help match salaries.

For my money, Cleveland would be a better bet if they can get Tony Battie and a first-round pick for Gooden and DeClercq. Battie was a starting center for the Celtics before being traded to the Cavs and he can provide a solid backup to Kelvin Kato, or even challenge him for the starting position. Battie's also got a nice outside shot so that he could at times play alongside Kato. Gooden has much more upside but that is compensated for in a first-round pick. Would Cleveland do this deal to get Gooden? Without a pick, there's probably no doubt they would. With one... they'd have to really be high on Gooden's upside, though considering he has the same physical gifts as Carlos Boozer, there's a solid chance Gooden can shine this year much like Boozer did last year, playing alongside Zydrunas Ilgasukas.

If the Wolves are peddling Michael Olowokandi or Ervin Johnson, then the Magic might have to think long and hard about such an offer. Olowokandi is a perennial underperformer who likes to do finesse moves under the basket and whose head isn't always in the game. Johnson is a defensive force who knows his game and rarely makes offensive mistakes. If they could finagle a second-round pick in the deal, the Magic would be doing well.

The Warriors, while reportedly interested in Gooden, have nothing to offer the Magic. Does Orlando want Dale Davis? Adonal Foyle and his long-term contract? Not likely. The players that are closer to matching on the salary front are the ones that the Warriors are building around, such as Mike Dunleavy, Jason Richardson, and Mickael Pietrus. Any one of those would be a great swap for the Magic but are not likely to be on the table.

That leaves the Mavs and their likely offer of Stackhouse or Laettner. That would be a huge mistake for the Magic. Right now, Orlando has some excellent frontcourt depth and after Detroit's title last month, people are finally starting to realize how important that is. Denver is beefing up its frontcourt depth to make a championship run. Orlando can too.

Perhaps the best action is inaction. Though Gooden and the rest of us think he is on the block, perhaps it is better to keep him and rotate him in. It's up to the GM and the coach to make him feel important. But he's a cheap starting-quality backup power forward. In our era of glorified power forwards, why give that up?

The St. Petersburg Times notes: Tampa Bay residents can buy tickets now to see Shaquille O'Neal in a Heat uniform at the St. Pete Times Forum on Oct. 15, when Miami plays the Orlando Magic in a preseason game. O'Neal, the former Lakers (and Magic) center, was traded to the Heat this month, making the team an instant favorite for an NBA championship. Tickets for the 8 p.m. game are available at the St. Pete Times Forum ticket office, at ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster outlets and by phone at (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.


Art Garcia ofThe Fort-Worth Star-Telegramwrites: The Mavericks and Orlando are discussing a multiplayer deal that would include Magic power forward Drew Gooden, according to an NBA source.The Mavs' package would likely involve Jerry Stackhouse or Christian Laettner, both acquired in a trade with Washington last month... For the salaries to work in the proposed trade, the Magic would probably need to include veteran center Andrew DeClercq, who makes $2.8 million. Cleveland, Minnesota and Golden State reportedly also have shown interest in Gooden. The Mavs also have discussed a sign-and-trade deal for Boston center Chris Mihm, a restricted free agent, but the deal appears unlikely because of salaries.

The Charlotte Observerwrites: Forward Drew Gooden believes his time with the Magic is dwindling since the team drafted high school phenom Dwight Howard with the first pick of the draft."I'm on the trading block, no question about that," Gooden said. " ... I understand this is a business."

The Contra Costa Timeswrites: Drew Gooden, Orlando Magic player and former El Cerrito High School All-American, will be holding a camp for boys and girls ages 7-14 Aug. 9-13 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Albany High School.Campers will receive T-shirt, customized ball and picture with Gooden. Proceeds benefit Scholar Athletes, Inc. 510-223-5518, drewgoodencamp@yahoo.com or www.drewgooden.net.