WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Drew Gooden has been playing out of his mind in the last nine games, earning a contract extension to last through the end of the 2013-14 NBA season with the Wizards.
Although Gooden had never imagined being in the position of having to sign a 10-day contract in his career, much less, two, being passed on by every other team for much of the season has served as a source of motivation for him, he told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
“Well, this is something I’ve never done before, and kind of never thought in my career that I would be coming in having to sign a 10-day deal for a team and really having to earn my spot,” he said on Wednesday. “I think it was some incentive for me to not only come in and play well, but to prove to other teams that I still got some gas left in the tank.”
Gooden has shot .590 from the field, .625 from beyond the arc, averaging 9.2 points per game for the Wizards. Before getting the call from Washington, he was just sitting at home, working feverishly to stay in playing shape waiting for someone to take a flyer on him.
He initially found himself on the free agency market after being amnestied by the Milwaukee Bucks in July 2013, only a few months prior to the start of this current season.
“I got amnestied pretty late in the free agent process, to where a lot of roster spots were full,” Gooden said. “And a lot of teams were filling up their last spots with a guy that’s a stretch forward. So that wasn’t my characteristics, and a lot of teams kind of pitched that they were looking for a guy with some range, so during the time off I worked on my range, and that’s how it paid off.”
After months of not getting picked up, Gooden found his life at a crossroads, deciding he still had plenty of passion for the game and wanted to do whatever it took to make himself more valuable to teams looking for help.
“I did some soul-searching during the time off,” he said. “A lot of guys could have easily sat on the couch, got fat and watched t.v., but I didn’t do that. I have a passion for this game, I have a love for this game, and every day I woke up and I did something with a basketball activity to stay in shape and not let guys get too far of a step ahead of me.
“I knew every day they were either playing a game or an NBA practice, and it’s kind of hard to emulate any type of NBA atmosphere by yourself, so I had a cloud lingering on me every day on my own schedule, knowing I had to do something, so it actually paid off.”