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Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gooden focus for Cavs

July 11, 2006

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Behind the scenes, the entire Cavaliers organization celebrated Saturday when LeBron James announced that he would accept a contract extension.

Outwardly, though, it was back to business. The team enters what could be a dicey negotiation with their new No. 1 priority, free agent Drew Gooden. They had asked Gooden's agents to be patient until James' situation was settled; now talks will begin in earnest.

The former Kansas University forward is a restricted free agent, which means the Cavs can match any offer he receives. Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry said he wanted to re-sign Gooden and wouldn't let him go with nothing in return.

The Denver Nuggets agreed last week to a six-year, $60 million deal with restricted free-agent forward Nene, who has career averages of 10 points and six rebounds and is coming off major knee surgery.

The Cavs were probably not considering going that high for Gooden, who has career averages of 12 points and seven rebounds.

"That (Nene) deal set the market; we'd like to get into that environment," Gooden's agent, Calvin Andrews, said Saturday.

If planned talks early this week don't go well, things could get tense because there are no teams left with salary-cap room that are believed to be seriously interested in Gooden. That might lead to Gooden exploring sign-and-trade possibilities or playing on a one-year, $5.4 million contract that would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Experts have said a three-year, $18 million deal would probably be fair for Gooden, a good complementary player.

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