The Lakers have agreed a deal with Christian Wood, placing an exclamation mark at the end of their offseason roster by adding the talented big man.
Wood will sign the veteran’s minimum on a two-year contract with a player option in the second season, a person familiar with the situation said. However, if everything goes according to plan, he will not exercise it. Wood’s ability to stretch the floor offensively—he averaged 16.6 points on 37.6% over the three previous Dallas seasons—is among the best in the league for players at his position.
He stands at six feet tall and turns just 28 at the end of the month, giving the team another player in his prime in free agency, with signings Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince. The Lakers have also added former lottery picks Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish to low-risk free agency deals in addition to Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura.
The team has fourteen players under contract and three others have a reciprocal contract.
Wood has the most complete offensive resume of any Lakers newcomer. Over the past four seasons, he averaged just under 17 points to go with 8.2 rebounds and 1.0 block. However, he has done that with three different teams.
Wood’s problems – consistency on the defensive top of the list – have pushed him all over the league in his short career. He has played for seven different franchises – not counting a season in the G-League – with only one, Houston, holding him for multiple seasons.
However, the Lakers could get the right player at the right time. With a sluggish free agent market presumably lacking in significant offers, Wood joins a team poised to win and in clear need of a scoring big man off the bench. Role acceptance, an issue that contributed to that soft market, should be at an all-time high with LeBron James and title hopes (while Wood has a bit of a make-it-or-break-it deal). ).
He must be given enough opportunities to show his strengths. Although he will initially play on the bench for the Lakers, Anthony Davis’ injury problems and James’ age mean there could be plenty of nights where the Lakers could use a little push.
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The Lakers targeted Wood as soon as it became clear he might be available at the league minimum, with both Davis and coach Darvin Ham having worked with him on previous stops.
Still, the questions are real. Wood was unsigned in the first week of September, with the Lakers becoming the latest team to try and put him in the right situation.
The risk, at the league’s minimum wage, is low. However, the payoff is potentially huge.
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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.