Needing to find a replacement for Boozer and appease their fans,
the Cavaliers acquired Drew Gooden in a four-player swap with
Orlando on Friday.
Gooden should help Cleveland offset the stunning departure of
Boozer, who bolted as a free agent when he signed a six-year, $68
million offer sheet with Utah last week.
On Tuesday, the Cavaliers began their post-Boozer cleanup by
acquiring guard Eric Snow in a trade with Philadelphia.
"This wasn't done to make a splash," said general manager Jim
Paxson, who has been criticized for the Boozer debacle. "This is
good for the short-term and the long-term. This has been a very
positive week. We've moved forward."
Paxson said he began talks in Las Vegas last weekend about
acquiring the rights to Varejao when Gooden's name was thrown into
While the 6-foot-10, 242-pound Gooden isn't quite as good as
Boozer, he's young, talented and inexpensive. He'll make $3.2
million next season and the Cavaliers can pick up a $4 million
option for 2005-06 by Oct. 31.
Gooden averaged 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds in 79 games -- 17
starts -- for the Magic last season. Drafted with the No. 4 overall
pick in 2002 by Memphis, Gooden was traded by the Grizzlies to
Orlando during his rookie year.
Gooden's raw talents had the Magic believing he could be a big
man to build around.
The former Kansas star capped the 2002-03 season by averaging 14
points and 12.7 rebounds in a seven-game playoff series against
Detroit in which he outplayed Pistons star center Ben Wallace.
The Magic signed free agent Juwan Howard before last season,
hoping he and Gooden could play together. However, the experiment
was quickly shelved, and Gooden was sent to the bench.
"Drew came back in the beginning of last year and found Juwan
(Howard) in his spot," Magic GM John Weisbrod said. "I think even
Drew would say he didn't deal with it as well as he could've or
Still, Gooden recorded a team-high 18 double-doubles, 23 fewer
than Boozer got for the Cavaliers.
Gooden's already got a good friend in Cleveland, Indians pitcher
"It's awesome," Sabathia said. "I've known him since we were
12 years old."
Paxson, who wants to add another big man, wouldn't guarantee
Gooden a spot in the starting lineup. The GM isn't concerned about
Gooden being traded twice in just three years or that he's been
labeled a "soft" player.
"There are other reasons why players get moved, but I don't
believe it's because of his talent level," Paxson said.
Orlando, which lost a league-high 61 games last season, has been
overhauled since Weisbrod was hired as general manager in March. Of
the 15 players, active and injured, on the roster when the Magic
ended the season, only five remain.
"The players that we had assembled and the team we had
assembled, obviously, wasn't a very good one," Weisbrod said. "If
you want to make the team better, I guess it's a natural byproduct
that you end up changing a lot of faces."
Battie was a solid defender and role player in Cleveland,
averaging 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 50 games after coming over
in a December trade from Boston.
Varejao and Hunter can also help the Cavaliers recover from
losing Boozer, the club's leading rebounder last season.
The 6-foot-10 Varejao was drafted by the Magic with the first
pick in the second round in last month's draft. He averaged 7.7
points and 5.0 rebounds for F.C. Barcelona last season.