Mavericks Get Wood
The NBA Finals are not quite finished yet, but that isn’t stopping the rest of the teams around the Association from tweaking their rosters as preparations are already well underway for the 2022-2023 season.
The first notable move was reported earlier this morning by The Athletics Shams Charania, with the Houston Rockets reportedly sending big man Christian Wood (The Crucifix!) to Dallas in exchange for a package comprising of a late first-round pick and multiple players to match his $14m salary.
Let’s take a look at the exact details of the trade, how this deal affects both teams, as well as what other potential moves may be on the horizon for the two Texas rivals.
Dallas Receive: Christian Wood
Houston Receive: Dallas’ 2022 first-round pick (26), Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, Sterling Brown, Boban Marjanovic.
The Mavericks needed to bring in more talent to surround Luka Doncic with, and they’ve managed to do that in this trade.
People may not fully understand the impact Wood has made when he’s been on the floor in recent seasons, but he’s been very productive in arguably low minutes compared to some of his peers. As a starting centre last season, Wood averaged 17.9ppg, 10.1rpg, 2.3apg and 1.0bpg in a little over 30 minutes per contest.
Sure, the Rockets haven’t been winning since he joined the team, managing a record of just 37-117 in the past two seasons, but it’s worth noting that he joined a team which James Harden gave up on and was traded from early in the season. Additionally, the team has since been under the tutelage of rookie Head Coach Stephen Silas – not exactly a recipe for success.
Some have questioned Wood’s attitude while with the team this past season, but I think it’s reasonable to believe he will be rejuvenated with a Mavericks squad which is looking to win now, rather than a team who deliberately sits out their highest paid player in order to be as bad as possible.
Christian Wood has reportedly been traded from the Houston Rockets to the Dallas Mavericks. Credit: Carmen Mandato - Getty Images
Wood shapes as a great complimentary threat to help Doncic, being able to space the floor thanks to his near 40% three point shooting last season. He also looms as a potential bail-out option late in the shot clock given his good (but not great) post game, allowing Doncic to not have to do EVERYTHING on every offensive possession. The continued emergence of Jalen Brunson (should they re-sign him this off-season) should only help both Doncic and Wood’s effectiveness going forward.
The pieces going out in this deal – Burke, Chriss, Brown, Marjanovic and pick 26 in this year’s draft– represent an almost disposable level of talent and contribution to the team’s success last season. Burke only managed 42 games off the bench with 10 minutes per appearance, Sterling Brown’s numbers are almost identical to Burke’s and Chriss only saw court time in 34 games. Marjanovic then played even fewer games, managing five minutes per contest in just 23 appearances.
Boban Marjanovich is arguably the most serviceable player the Rockets received in the deal, but how much court time he sees next season remains unknown. Credit: Sportscasting
Pick 26 in this year’s draft, meanwhile, holds minimal value to a team who is entering a window of contention with a young phenom like Doncic and plenty of additional young talent. Josh Green, Frank Ntilikina and the aforementioned Jalen Brunson are all 25 or younger along with Doncic, while Wood himself is only 26 at the time of this trade, giving the Mavericks plenty of reason to be optimistic there is still growth from within possible going forward.
The team’s key veterans in Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell are also all 30 or under, meaning there should be at minimum a two-to-three year window of opportunity before the team needs to look to replace their assumed diminishing production.
Despite the fact Wood is on the last year of a deal and is likely up for a larger contract this coming off-season if he performs to expectations, Dallas have only traded their 10th-14th men and a draft pick that likely wouldn’t help them in the immediate future.
That’s a small price for a guy who can increase their ceiling in the here and now, as well as flag to Luka Doncic they are serious about building around him.
The Rockets have made this deal for one reason and one reason only: They want to be bad.
In that sense, this is a huge win for the team because it will, almost assuredly, make them worse than last season. Considering they only managed 17 wins in their campaign just gone, if you look at this trade from left-field, it’s actually impressive to think they’ve pulled it off.
The future is certainly not now for the Rockets, and Christian Wood doesn’t fit the new and emerging timeline of talented youngsters Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr and Alperen Sengun. He was signed during an era where the team assumed James Harden was still in town, and given the false pretences Wood signed under two off-seasons ago, it’s no wonder frustrations began to show last season.
His departure leaves a forecasted increase in minutes for Alperen Sengun (The Castaway!) to use to fast-track his development at the centre position, while Wood's 13 shots per game will be eaten up by the aforementioned young core and whomever the team selects with the third pick in a couple of week’s time at the NBA Draft.
Christian Wood being traded to the Mavericks means Alpheren Sengun (pictured, red) will likely see a large increase in minutes next season. Credit: The Dream Shake
In return, Houston received a plethora of veteran players who will have varying impacts on the team this upcoming season. All of Chriss, Brown and Marjanovich have one season remaining on their contract, with it unlikely that any of them would garner a significant asset in a potential subsequent deal. Trey Burke, on the other hand, has a player option for nearly $3.5m he is yet to make a decision on. I doubt there would be better money available for him on the open market when free agency opens, however there may be a team willing to sign him for less if he values his sanity over money at this stage in his career and doesn’t want to suit up in Houston.
I suspect Chriss, Brown and Marjanovich will likely all stick around and see out there deals as veteran mentors for the young core the Rockets are building, with occasional court time thrown in. Houston don’t want to win however, and despite being on the fringes in Dallas, this is a trio that could help them play a more consistent brand of basketball, so don’t expect any of them to get an extended run at any stage this season barring injuries.
The real intrigue for me in this deal is the 26th pick in this year’s draft. As with any rebuilding team, collecting young assets in the form of players or draft picks is key. It also allows you to continue to be bad while developing your talent, resulting in higher quality draft picks. What direction do the Rockets go in at the Draft?
Duke's Paolo Banchero (left, white) battles with Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren (blue, #34) during their Collegiate careers. Will Houston start next season with either on their roster? Credit: CBS Sports
Most draft pundits have the team selecting whoever is still available of Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren with the third pick, leaving them with three young bigs they likely want to invest in in Sengun, Garuba and their 3rd pick. This likely rules out the desire to use the 26th pick on another big.
Dennis Schroder is an unrestricted free agent and I can’t imagine he would want to stick around, particularly if the team use their 17th pick to draft a guard like TyTy Washington or Blake Wesley. That leaves a wing as the likely option for this pick, or an attempt to package the 17th and 26th pick and move up the draft if they can find a buyer.
If they keep the 26th pick, despite the way I think their thought process is unfolding, I’d like to see them draft raw big-man Walker Kessler
if he's still available. He already possesses great size and defensive instincts at 7’1”, 255lbs with an astounding 4.6 blocks per game for Auburn last season. Despite the team likely having three young bigs they want to develop, it can’t hurt to have a physical specimen on your roster with that type of timing on the defensive end. Young bigs also tend to get into foul trouble and develop slowly, meaning having multiple options isn’t the worse conundrum to have for Coach Stephen Silas.
If they want to try and move up, could Charlotte be a potential trade partner at pick 13 if someone like Dyson Daniels slides or they are enamoured with a prospect like Malaki Branham? Or potentially the Spurs, who hold the 9th selection and two additional selections in the first round. If San Antonio think they are ready to take a leap forward following DeJounte Murray’s break-out last season, could they take the additional draft selection and package multiple first-rounders to a team looking to off-load talent?
The 26th selection, as with the Houston’s wider draft strategy, is yet to reveal itself, but they’ve given themselves flexibility at the draft as well as a small step back in the immediate future to continue building around their young core. They’ve also done so without taking on long-term salary, which is commendable, but at the expense of their fans enjoyment and potential ticket sales in the short-term.
So, what do you think? Did I get it right? Did I mess it up? Let me know on twitter (@BMBTPodcast) or send us an email at BMBTPodcast@gmail.com!
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