The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets reached an agreement on the offseason’s first big trade, which pairs Christian Wood with Luka Doncic in exchange for salary filler and a late first-round pick.
Specifically, the Mavericks will receive Wood in exchange for Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown, Marquese Chriss and the No. 26 overall pick.
Many were surprised by the return the Rockets are receiving in this trade. The motivation was to open more minutes for Alperen Sengun. However, the value for a stretch-five who averaged 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season feels low.
In a conversation with NBA Analysis Network, one former league executive sees great value in what the Mavericks gave up for Wood. It’s a low-risk move with motivation for Wood to make it work in a contract year.
“Dallas traded four players they don’t give minutes to and a late first for a stretch-five with a lot to his game. His effort level has been a concern at times but playing for a contender in a contract year should fix that. The bar is high for him on the Mavericks with them coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance. If it doesn’t work out, that’ll be something front offices take into account.”
The Mavericks managed to get by with Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber as their center rotation against the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Not having a starting center that can space the floor became an issue against the Golden State Warriors, as well as rebounding issues due to undersized personnel.
The two-man game with Luka Doncic is intriguing in itself. The former executive is intrigued by how Wood adds another scoring threat.
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“Wood can make step-back 3s, come off flares, and can do really everything as a ball screener between pops and catch lobs. All of that will be maximized with Doncic’s passing and the attention he draws. The Mavericks needed another iso scorer against the Warriors in the Conference Finals and Wood checks that box. If Brunson decides to re-sign, Dallas will have 2-3 threats to attack off the bounce at all times while having a shooter at every position. Good luck guarding that…”
The talent has always been there with Wood. The main concern is if the Mavericks can get buy-in from him defensively. Given the high stakes entering a contract year and joining a contender, Wood would be doing himself a major disservice by not doing so.
Wood initially signed with the Rockets in 2020 with the intention of competing for a championship before James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 23.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in seven appearances with Harden on the floor. He exceeded the 20-point threshold in all but one of those games.
For now, the Mavericks still have their center rotation from the playoffs. They can switch up lineup combinations if needed, given they aren’t paying Wood a massive contract like they were Kristaps Porzingis.
At the very least, if it doesn’t work out for the Mavericks, they parted with four players that would have sat on the bench while giving up the No. 26 overall pick. Late first-rounders have value, but so does taking risks for high-upside outcomes.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth
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