The Lakers have agreed to a deal with Christian Wood, with an exclamation mark at the end of their offseason roster formation by adding the talented big man.
Wood will sign the minimum veteran on a two-year deal with a player option in season two, according to a person familiar with the situation. However, if everything went according to plan, he wouldn’t practice it. Wood’s ability to stretch the floor on the offensive side — he averaged 16.6 points on 37.6% three-point shooting last season in Dallas — is among the best in the league for players in his position.
He’s 6-foot-10 and will just turn 28 at the end of the month, giving the team another player in his prime in free agency to join signings Gabe Vincent and Torrian Prince. The Lakers, in addition to retaining Austin Reeves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura, have also added former lottery picks Jackson Hayes and Cam Reddish in low-risk free agency deals.
The team includes 14 contracted players, with three more in bilateral deals.
Wood has the most complete offensive resume of any Lakers rookie. Over the past four seasons, he’s averaged just under 17 points, grabbing 8.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. He’s done it with three different teams.
Wood’s problems—consistency on the defensive side is top of the list—propelled him all over the league in his short career. He’s played for seven different clubs – not counting his season in the Premier League – with only one club, Houston, holding him for multiple seasons.
But the Lakers might get the right player at the right time. With a soft free-agent market presumably not producing any significant offers, Wood joins a team ready to win with a clear need for a big man who scores goals from the bench. Acceptance of the role, something that helped contribute to that soft market, should be at an all-time high with LeBron James and his title hopes on board (while Wood is in a hit-or-break deal).
He should get ample opportunity to showcase his strengths. Although he will initially be a bench player for the Lakers, the injury issues of Anthony Davis and Omar James should allow for plenty of nights where the Lakers can benefit from the bucket.
The Lakers targeted Wood as soon as it became apparent he would likely be available in the league’s lower division, as both Davis and head coach Darvin Hamm had worked with him on previous stops.
However, the questions are real. Wood was not signed in the first week of September, and the Lakers became the last team to try to get him right.
The stakes, at the league’s minimum wage, are low. However, the payoff is potentially huge.