Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka made it clear in July that the team would like to make at least one more addition – and preferably another big man – before training camp begins.
They locked in one of their main targets on Tuesday evening.
The Lakers and forward/center Christian Wood agreed to terms on a two-year deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report, citing unnamed sources.
Wood confirmed the deal with a tweet saying, “It’s always been my dream to be a [Laker].”
It’s always been my dream to be a laker 💜💛
— 35 (@Chriswood_5) September 6, 2023
Wood averaged 16.6 points (51.5% shooting, 37.6% from 3-point range) and 7.3 rebounds for the Dallas Mavericks last season but started just 17 games and averaged just under 26 minutes.
Pelinka said in July that he and Coach Darvin Ham had spoken with Anthony Davis about playing more minutes alongside another big man, similar to how he did with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee during the Lakers’ 2019-20 championship season.
Davis played 99% of his minutes as the center in 2022-23 compared to 60% at power forward and 40% at center in 2019-20, according to Cleaning The Glass.
Pelinka added that “dimensionalizing the skills” in the big man rotation was a priority after signing Jaxson Hayes – an athletic, rim-oriented big – shortly after free agency kicked off.
“We don’t want to sign someone who replicates the skills that Jaxson Hayes has,” Pelinka said at the time. “So if we can diversify the big position and have different looks, that would be good.”
Wood should provide the skillset variety the Lakers said they were seeking.
The 6-foot-10 Long Beach native with a 7-3 wingspan has shot 37.9% from 3-point range (3.5 attempts per game) over his career. He’s shot 38.1% from behind the arc (4.7 attempts per game) over the previous three seasons.
The addition of Wood will give Ham more frontcourt options between Davis, Hayes, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince and Rui Hachimura.
For Wood, who turns 28 later this month, the deal gives him the opportunity to show what he can provide on a winning team and enter free agency again next offseason if he chooses to.
He’ll have an estimated $2.71 million salary for 2023-24 and will have a player option for a $3.1 million salary for 2024-25. Wood made $14 million last season, the final year of a three-year deal he signed with Houston in 2020.
Questions about Wood’s defense and intangibles have followed him throughout his career. It’s a reason why a player as talented as him was still available as a free agent this deep into the offseason. The Lakers will be Wood’s eighth team since he went undrafted out of UNLV in 2015.
Ultimately, the Lakers are optimistic and betting on the upside Wood could bring without sacrificing any of their future flexibility.
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