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The Worst Bucks Contract of the Last Decade: Drew Gooden Goes Out at #4

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Aaron Rodger’s favorite Buck was never all that impactful

Los Angeles Clippers vs Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

The great revamp of 2010 started with trading for Corey Maggette and re-signing John Salmons. It ended with the 5-year, $32M deal for Drew Gooden, a 28-year-old veteran who had already appeared with eight different teams in his eight years in the league. That probably could’ve signalled something to the Bucks’ front brass, but they went ahead and dropped the bag for the aged power forward regardless.

Gooden seemed to offer a unique blend of frontcourt skills that could complement the defense of Andrew Bogut. While he wasn’t a marksman from deep, he could hit competently from the midrange. He spent most of his career in the mid-to-low 40% range for his shot from that era and spawned Aaron Rodgers’ affinity for the inefficient shot location. Gooden could also slide into the center position to give the Bucks’ a little more of a small-ball look with suspect defense.

Unfortunately, his first year was marred by injuries, playing just 35 games that year. With an escalating contract, Gooden was just fifth on the salary ledger for 2010-11, but ranked just ninth on the team in terms of win shares per 48. His true shooting percentage fell to the worst since his rookie year (48.7%). All-in-all, it was just a lost year for the new acquisition, emblematic of that year as a whole for the franchise.

Heading into 2011-12, he was fourth in terms of salary behind Beno Udrih, Stephen Jackson and Andrew Bogut. He played almost exclusively at center that season, and finished the year with a -10.6 net plus-minus per 100 possessions per Basketballreference.com. With Andrew Bogut only playing 12 games that season, Gooden was thrust into a larger role in the middle. He didn’t offer much of anything in terms of defensive value while on the court either, unable to block shots and the team performed considerably better defensively while he was off the court. He had the best raw statistics of his time with Milwaukee, 13.5 points, 6.5 boards and 2.6 assists per game, but he remained largely the same player he was for every year prior: a decent shooting big with little versatility or ability to finish at the rim. He shot well below average among bigs at the rim each year as a Buck. On the bright side, he was fifth in terms of win shares per 48...trailing guys like Jon Leuer and Mike Dunleavy.

His final year in Milwaukee, 2012-13, he mustered only 16 games and just 151 minutes total for the franchise. He was also the fourth-highest paid player on the roster. The summer of 2013, the Bucks designated Gooden as their amnesty player, wiping the remaining $13.3 million of his last two years off their books. Even if they still had to pay it out to Gooden as he sporadically played out the final years of his career in Washington, at least he wasn’t actively hurting their cap space.

Who could’ve guessed that when the Bucks inked Gooden to his deal, he would appear in merely 107 games in the red and green before John Hammond kindly showed him the door. Gooden’s injuries played a role in this contract looking worse in hindsight, but Gooden didn’t look all that pretty after it was signed either. Unlike some of his other signings, Houdini Hammond just couldn’t find a way to make it disappear until three years in.

From the Archives

Here’s a nice round-up of opinions from your favorite roundball pundits at the time of the Gooden signing. A differing of two opinions from John Hollinger...

He was easily the best big man available at this price: Sorry Amir Johnson. In all seriousness, who were the other options for Milwaukee? They wanted a big man who could start at the 4, back up Andrew Bogut if he had to, space the floor and rebound. Who else was available for less than $50 million that could do that? Udonis Haslem? Brad Miller? The list thins out pretty fast once you get through the Amare/Boozer/Lee crowd, which is why Milwaukee jumped early.

And Tom Ziller:

Gooden is a useful player, though considering just a year ago no team would offer him more than an unguaranteed one-year deal worth $4 million, springing for the full mid-level seems awfully hasty, especially considering power forward does not seem to be a need position in Milwaukee. Gooden just does not seem like a player you rush toward in the first hours of what should be a long free agency period.

Here’s Dan Sinclair trying to give Gooden the credit he deserves at the tail-end of the 2011-12 campaign.


Brew Hoop Worst Contract of the Last Decade Ranking

10. Ersan Ilyasova (2012; 5-year, $40M; team option last year)

9. O.J. Mayo (2013; 3-year, $24M)

8. Mirza Teletovic (2016; 3-year, $31.5M)

7. Tony Snell (2017; 4-year, $44M)

6. John Salmons (2010; 5-year, $39M)

5. John Henson (2015; 4-year, $44M)

4. Drew Gooden (2010; 5-year, $32M)

Here’s the next poll:

Poll

What is the BEST Bucks contract out of this bad bunch?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    2013 Larry Sanders (4-year, $44M)
    (59 votes)
  • 55%
    2016 Matthew Dellavedova (4-year, $38.5M)
    (81 votes)
  • 4%
    2016 Miles Plumlee (4-year, $52M)
    (7 votes)
147 votes total Vote Now

This poll will close on Friday, May 22 at noon CST.