Reggie Evans for Drew Gooden?

Locke brought this up last night, and apparently it has legs. Cleveland Plain Dealer has a big story on how Drew Gooden trade rumors are getting hot, and there are rumors that he’s being shopped hard to three Western conference teams. Locke says the Sonics are one of those teams, along with Dallas and one other team. The deal on the Sonics end would be Reggie Evans for Gooden in a sign-and-trade. There are also talks that the deal could be expanded to include Luke Jackson, a player the Sonics really liked coming out last year, and the Sonics would send something else back, not sure who or what at this point.

The Cavs are supposedly interested in moving Gooden for a couple of reasons, 1) the signing of Donyell Marshall will make Gooden a guy to come off the bench, and they don’t believe he’s a very good bench guy and needs to start, and 2) Gooden is a free-agent after this year and they are going to want as much cap room as possible when LeBron hits the market in 2 years. While they value Gooden, they have basically made a pre-emptive strike against his departure by signing Marshall. That said, they don’t want to see Gooden just walk free next summer, so this is the time to move him. The Cavs have identified their “fantastic 4” to be LeBron, Hughes, Big Z and Marshall.

Locke in particular LOVES the idea of Gooden on the Sonics! He says that they could play him at center in the west, in the new up-tempo attack that Weiss will install, and Gooden would be perfect out here, teaming with Collison to run the floor. Gooden is a better athlete than Collison and can make up for giving away a couple of inches to 7-footers on a nightly basis.

Even a bigger reason is that based on the buzz from the summer leagues, there is a big belief that there is no way Robert Swift is ready to contribute anything more than 10 minutes and 6 fouls every night. He has looked extremely raw and however good he looked going one-on-one with Sikma in practice, it’s a whole different deal now that he’s actually playing. Meanwhile Petro has been a disaster. He’s athletic, sure, but he has ZERO clue in what to do and is years from contributing. The Sonics have re-evaluated their approach and instead of over-spending to get a backup point guard, they are shifting their focus to center.

Their ideal plan would be to do the Evans-for-Gooden deal, make Gooden the starter, and re-sign Vitaly to be the backup and keep Swifty as your 12th man.

Now, why do I also like Gooden? I looked at the numbers this morning, and, compared to Evans? There is no comparision.

Both guys were starting power forwards last year, obviously not guys that were the offensive focus, so in a similar fashion, they had to fight for scraps offensively.

That said, Gooden averaged 14.4 ppg, 9.2 RPG, 1.6 apg, 81% from the line and almost 1 steal and 1 block in 30 minutes per game. At 6-10, 245, he has passable size and good athleticism to at least get away with playing center out here. Gooden averaged those numbers in almost 30 minutes per game.

Something else of interest in regards to Gooden? He’s has some real good success against the West. Check it out:

Vs. Houston last year, averaged 20 and 9. Against Dallas he averaged 11 and 11, and against Denver and Kenyon Martin, he averaged 11 and 13!

The more impressive numbers to think about? Against the two highest seeds in the west, it’s eye-popping. Against the Spurs and Tim Duncan and co, he went for 19 and 10.5. But against the Suns and Amare?? Get this – in two games, he averaged 13.5 and 20 REBOUNDS! Are you kidding me?? TWENTY rebounds, on average, against Phoenix?? He has 21 rebounds in one game, 19 in the other against them. These are Shawn-Kemp-ish numbers.

Evans averaged 4.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 53% from the line, .73 steals and .19 blocks in 24 minutes per game.

The “bottom line” in all this? It’s very clear now that the Sonics biggest hole is the 5-hole. They have no center on their roster that is ready to do anything, and Nick Collison is not a center. The Sonics have no reason to bring back Evans, a guy who can only play one position, and with Danny Fortson still under contract, he’s going to be the backup to Nick. Drew Gooden could be the perfect fit. Reggie’s a high-energy guy, a guy you love to have in those long east coast trips when you have no legs in that 4th game in 5 nights, but besides rebounding, he’s not worth it when you have the chance to fill a major hole elsewhere.

Now, based on his season last year, why would Cleveland do such a deal? Well, a few reasons. They need exactly what Reggie does. They have enough low-post defense and scoring, now with the zasty Big Z, and the power-forward combo of Anderson Varejao, who they really love, and now Donyell Marshall. They wouldn’t ever start Reggie, he would just do in Cleveland what he did in Seattle, but he’d do it off the bench. They need his rebound-and-energy approach. Gooden is, bascially, a luxury that Cleveland can afford to move.

I say do this deal as quickly as the words “yes” can come out of your mouth! GO GET DREW GOODEN! I love the look of this group:

PG – Luke – Cleaves OR veteran pg? Watson? Dooling?
SG – Ray – Flip
SF – Rashard – Vladi (back on the one-year tender) – Wilkins
PF – Nick – Fortson – Petro
C – Gooden – Potapenko – Swift