There is now.
"We're going to keep him,'' Clippers general manager Mike Dunleavy said in phone interview shortly thereafter with FanHouse from Lexington, Ky., where he will scout Thursday's game between Kentucky and South Carolina. "There's no 'probably.'''
That could put an end to the list of marquee players who will be bought out by the March 1 deadline in order to be eligible for the playoffs with another team. The Washington Post reported Wednesday night a buyout has been reached with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and earlier in the day Sacramento had finalized a buyout with guard Larry Hughes.
"I'm sure there's still a chance (of a buyout),'' the coach said. "I'm not privy to that. I would definitely vote not to. (But) things happen. I wouldn't be shocked by anything that could happen. If it could save the team money, it could happen. But the way I perceive it, he's here to stay.''
Gooden is. The general manager guarantees it.
"To have another body, I consider him our second-best big,'' said a pleased Kim Hughes when told after the game about Dunleavy's assurance Gooden will stay. "It's great because it gives us more rotations again.''
Gooden, who totaled 20 points and 13 rebounds against Detroit in his first start and second game with the Clippers, will be a free agent at season's end. But Dunleavy said he's a player the Clippers want to look at with the possibly of re-signing.
"We like him,'' Dunleavy said. "He's a good low-post presence.''
Told after the game about Dunleavy saying no buyout would be considered, Gooden said, "I'm happy. I'm wanted here. I'm going to make the best of this situation.''
Asked before the game about the possibly of having his contract bought out, Gooden played it coy, saying, "I'm here right now so we'll see what happens.'' He added, "There's been a lot of teams asking about me.''
While Gooden didn't name any teams, Dallas and Denver are among those believed to have had hope Gooden would be bought out. Gooden began the season with the Mavericks before being shipped Feb. 13 to Washington and later dealt Feb.17 to the Clippers in a three-team trade.
The Nuggets are looking for depth in the post for a possible playoff meeting with the Lakers, and the Mavericks have a more pressing need due to center Erick Dampier being out following finger surgery. Both teams have inquired about Ilgauskas, who is considered a near certainty to return to Cleveland, which dealt him to the Wizards in the same trade in which Gooden went to the Clippers.
Ilgauskas is not eligible to re-sign with Cleveland until 30 days after he was traded. The Washington Post reported Ilgauskas' buyout was for between $1 million and $1.5 million.
Considering Ilgauskas had about a third of the season left on a deal worth $11.54 million, he paid a hefty price for his freedom. But it wouldn't be surprising if Ilgauskas recoups any lost dollars by re-signing with Cleveland.
Ilgauskas agent, Herb Rudoy, did not return a phone message Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, he sent a text in which he touched upon Ilgauskas' future.
"Z has not made up his mind where he will play,'' Rudoy wrote. "He is giving it a lot of thought.''
Few, though, believe there's a chance of Ilgauskas landing anywhere other than Cleveland. Ilgauskas had played his entire career with the Cavaliers after being taken by them in the first round in 1996.
With available big men running out, the Nuggets could turn to free agent Mikki Moore. Mark Bartelstein, Moore's agent, said the 6-foot-11 center should be fully healed in mid-March following December surgery on a right heel spur.
In the meantime, Kim Hughes elected to start Gooden on Wednesday after he had come off the bench Monday against Charlotte in his Clippers debut.
"I'm not starting him to try to keep him happy,'' said the coach. "I'm starting him because he's our second-best big.''
Gooden claims to be happy about being with the Clippers for the long haul.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson