- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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The Dallas Mavericks have struck a deal with unrestricted free agent Drew Gooden to make use of some of the money they got back when Orlando matched their offer sheet earlier this month to restricted free agent Marcin Gortat.
Gooden announced via his Twitter feed shortly past midnight Saturday that he is signing with the Mavericks. "Dallas here I come," he wrote. In response, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted: "Welcome Drew."
Sources with knowledge of the deal told ESPN.com that Gooden is receiving a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $4.5 million with incentives that will likely take it beyond $5 million by season's end. A formal announcement of the signing is expected Monday or Tuesday.
Gooden had previously announced via Twitter on Friday that he would be "making my decision tomorrow on which team I will be playing for." Sources said that Gooden had narrowed his final choices to Dallas, Cleveland and Charlotte.
Despite leg and abdominal injuries that cost him 31 games last season, Gooden was highly coveted in February after negotiating a buyout with the Sacramento Kings and wound up signing with the San Antonio Spurs. It's believed that he'll get a shot at starting at center for the Mavericks ahead of Erick Dampier, after that spot had been earmarked for Gortat with a five-year, $34 million offer sheet early in free agency.
Although he had a minimal impact in San Antonio's first-round loss to Dallas -- averaging 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes -- Gooden fared better in 19 regular-season games with the Spurs, averaging 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in just 16.8 minutes per game. He posted a double-double (12 points and 13 rebounds) in his only game with the Kings after arriving with Andres Nocioni in Sacramento as part of the deal that sent Brad Miller and John Salmons to the Bulls.
The Mavericks will be Gooden's seventh team in eight seasons of a career that has been unsettled since his rookie season, when he was dealt from Memphis to Orlando after being selected by the Grizzlies with the fourth overall pick.
Yet he's just 27 and has the ability -- when his focus is there -- to provide a low-post scoring option that Dallas has lacked, whether he starts or comes off the bench. Finishing games is hardly assured, as Dallas is apt to close with a small-ball lineup of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki to maximize its offensive firepower. But Gooden should have ample opportunity to supplant Dampier, who is entering what is widely considered to be his final season in Dallas.
Gooden will be asked to fill the void created by the departure of face-up forward Brandon Bass, who signed a four-year deal with Orlando worth $16 million while the Mavericks' money was tied up in their offer sheet to Gortat. Taking the full seven days allowed by league rules, Orlando stunned many league observers by deciding to match on Gortat -- given that Dwight Howard's backup will essentially be a $12 million player next season when the luxury-tax costs are factored in -- after signing Bass.
Gooden would be the Mavericks' second prominent newcomer this season following its recent trade acquisition of Shawn Marion. Dallas awarded a five-year deal worth nearly $40 million to Marion in a sign-and-trade arrangement featuring three other teams and also re-signed point guard Jason Kidd to a three-year deal worth $25 million.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
19hMatt Walks, ESPN.com