Report: Raptors have made inquiry about Drew Gooden

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Add Drew Gooden to the list of underwhelming potential candidates the Toronto Raptors could throw their limited cap space or exceptions at.

The Raptors are one of four teams to make inquiries about Big Drizzle, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. The Lakers, Clippers, and Knicks have also made calls on the recently waived former Washington Wizard. Gooden’s $3.5-million salary for 2016-17 was fully non-guaranteed, and if the Wizards go ahead with waiving him, as expected, it could speak to a lack of trade market for his services.

The question that naturally follows from that is if it means Gooden will be amenable to a salary below that amount. The Raptors can have about $5.7 million in estimated cap space, plus the $2.9-million room exception, or they could opt to stay above the cap and maintain the $5.6-million mid-level exception and the $2.2-million bi-annual exception. The Raptors don’t need to make that decision until they’re ready to make a signing or a trade, or until other teams force their hands by signing Luis Scola, James Johnson, or Jason Thompson (which is why the Raptors have delayed officially re-signing DeMar DeRozan).

Whatever the math, Gooden is likely at the point in his career where he wants to play for a contender. The 34-year-old has earned over $67 million in his career and remains without a ring, having played just 63 playoff games over 14 seasons. Whether the Raptors register as one of the teams he’d consider for that pursuit is yet to be seen.

And the Raptors, well, they can probably do better. “Why not just re-sign Jason Thompson,” Daniel Reynolds, managing editor of RaptorsHQ asked at our gate, waiting for a flight to Vegas for Summer League as he watched me write this. And yeah, why not, if that’s the type of asset you can bring in by letting Thompson go? Gooden’s been solid for a long time but was essentially deemed unplayable by the Wizards last year, averaging 2.7 points in 10.2 minutes over 30 appearances and shooting 32 percent from the floor. There’s something to be said for experience, and Gooden shot 39.5 percent on threes over a small-ish sample in the two years before last and has long been a strong rebounder, but those are skills the Raptors can find elsewhere and maintain continuity. If advanced stats are more your thing, Gooden ranked 90th out of 99 power forwards in Real Plus-Minus last season, and nearly all of his offensive metrics got worse.

Look, the pool of available players isn’t exactly robust, but I’d rather Thompson or Scola or Johnson than Gooden. This seems like it might be a case of someone floating the Raptors interest to buoy a soft market for a player, knowing he’s roughly the type they would be tied to and that the ever-quiet Raptors aren’t likely to deny rumors.

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