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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Sources: Gooden to join Spurs

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Barring an unforeseen snag, Drew Gooden will be joining the San Antonio Spurs later this week, according to NBA front-office sources.

Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Gooden -- waived Sunday by the Sacramento Kings before the midnight deadline to be eligibile to play in the playoffs with another team -- has made known his intent to sign with San Antonio after clearing waivers Wednesday.

Gooden was pursued by several playoff-bound teams this week, including San Antonio's divisional rivals in Dallas and New Orleans.

But the Spurs have nearly $1.5 million remaining from their mid-level salary-cap exception to offer Gooden for the rest of the season, as well as a shot at title contention.

The league-wide expectation since Sunday, when Gooden finalized a buyout with the Kings and Joe Smith secured his release from the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been Smith signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week and Gooden joining the Spurs.

The Arizona Republic reported on its Web site Tuesday that the Phoenix Suns are on the verge of signing Stromile Swift, who will also clear waivers Wednesday after completing a buyout with the New Jersey Nets.

The Spurs will be thrilled to win the race for Gooden, given the production he potentially offers at such a low price.

At the trade deadline, San Antonio thought it was close to acquiring center Marcus Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers, but such a move would have put the four-time champions into luxury-tax territory while also costing them prized rookie George Hill and two title-tested veterans in Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto. Signing Gooden for just under $1.5 million does not pitch the Spurs past the league's $71.2 million tax line.

The primary concern with Gooden is his health. He averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 31 games with Chicago and posted 12 points and 13 rebounds in his only game with Sacramento, but the 27-year-old has been plagued by a stubborn groin injury that could limit his ability to help the Spurs immediately.

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.