The Dallas Mavericks briefly distracted the NBA from an entertaining series between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors to make the biggest move of the offseason so far, trading for Houston Rockets center Christian Wood.
According to multiple reports, Dallas acquired the center in exchange for the 26th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Houston is also getting a plethora of players on expiring contracts, including Boban Marjanovic, Marquese Chriss, Trey Burke, and Sterling Brown.
By all accounts, this was a fleecing on the part of the Mavs. Wood is entering the last year of a manageable contract and is a double-double machine, averaging 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in his two Rockets seasons.
Sure, some of those players will be missed. Marjanovic, in particular, will be missed for the impact he had with fans and the locker room, if not so much on the court.
But this wasn’t just a winning trade for Dallas because they secured the better side of the deal. It was a winning trade because it accomplished two of the team’s three biggest goals for the offseason in one fell swoop.
The Dallas Mavericks accomplished two major goals when they agreed to acquire Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets.
First, the Mavs improved in a big way at center. The team was exposed during the playoffs by Kevon Looney, who isn’t an elite center, but had no issue bullying Dallas inside.
Wood is the best true center Dallas has had in some time. He finished 11th in the NBA with 10.1 rebounds per game last season and has ranked among the league leaders in effective field goal percentage twice in the last three seasons.
The 26-year-old wasn’t as good in his second season as his first season, when the Rockets bailed on the year and traded James Harden away, but the drop wasn’t significant enough to say Wood declined in a meaningful way.
With apologies to Marjanovic and Dwight Powell, Wood is just on another level. He should immediately improve the weakest position for the Mavericks.
That being said, Wood has always played on bad teams and this is his seventh team in his brief career. This will be the first time he really plays under the pressure of expectations, so we’ll have to see how that goes.
Wood is also not much of a defender on the inside, despite his ability to pull down rebounds. He may have to sub out for Powell or Maxi Kleber in key defensive situations. The Wood acquisition also likely takes Dallas out of the Rudy Gobert sweepstakes.
Beyond the improvement on the court is the gains made in roster flexibility. The Mavs were up against both the cap and the roster limit, leaving them little room to make maneuvers to improve the Western Conference finalists.
The deal cleared out four roster spots for the team. Those players combined to play less than 100 minutes during the playoffs, so their value was questionable at best, and certainly not worth the $12 million collectively being paid to them next season.
Their departures won’t do much to create the cap space needed to bring in another star. It could help in the effort to retain Jalen Brunson, however, and bring in veterans who might want more than the minimum.
There’s certainly a chance the trade doesn’t work out, Wood walks at the end of next season, and the Mavericks are in no better a place than they were at the end of this season. But those are the risks contenders need to take.
Acquiring Christian Wood shows Luka Doncic and the fans that the Dallas Mavericks are serious about building on this year’s postseason success.