Gooden has chance to sign with contender

Drew Gooden agreed to a buyout with the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite to sign him for the rest of the regular season and playoffs, two league executives said on Sunday night.

Gooden came to Sacramento on Feb. 19 in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, and it had been expected that the last-place Kings would buy him out, save some money and allow the power forward to move to a contender. The Cleveland Cavaliers are also a contender for Gooden.

The Kings beat Sunday's midnight Eastern deadline for Gooden to be eligible to play in the playoffs for another team. Gooden, who makes $7.1 million this season, has an expiring contract. The Kings saved themselves approximately $1.8 million with the buyout agreement.

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The Spurs have wanted badly to add frontcourt help, and nearly pulled off a trade deadline deal for Los Angeles Clippers center Marcus Camby. Gooden could give the Spurs much-needed size if they face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs.

The Oklahoma City Thunder also reached a buyout with veteran forward Joe Smith, and several league executives believe Smith is headed to the Cavaliers. If the Cavs and Smith reach an agreement quickly, Gooden would almost certainly wind up with the Spurs.

If Smith and Gooden clear waivers Wednesday morning, they will be free to sign with any team of their choosing.

The New Jersey Nets also waived forward Stromile Swift on Sunday.