Part of the reason it took Christian Wood so long to find a new team in free agency is he was waiting to see what would happen with the trade requests made by Damian Lillard and James Harden, sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
As Buha explains, Wood might have found an opportunity for more playing time and/or more money had one of the stars been moved, but since there hasn’t been much — if any — traction in either of those situations, he decided to join the Lakers on a two-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum (the second year is a player option).
Team sources tell Buha the “early expectation” is that Wood will come off the bench as L.A.’s primary backup center, with Rui Hachimura likely to start in the frontcourt alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Wood’s ability to space the floor should open up some two-big pairings, with Davis sliding down to power forward at times after spending last season exclusively playing center.
Wood’s addition could also reduce the minutes and roles of Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaxson Hayes, Buha adds. Vanderbilt was a rotation regular after being acquired from Utah in February, while Hayes signed as a free agent this summer after spending the past four seasons with New Orleans.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- In a statement to Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link), Wood says his relationship with head coach Darvin Ham — the two briefly worked together on the Bucks — was a factor in signing with the Lakers. “We’ve had great conversations everyday about this opportunity,” Wood wrote. “He believes in me and told me I’ll be playing a big role and knows what I can do.” The former Mavericks big man added that he was “motivated after what Dallas did,” though he didn’t specify what he meant.
- While there are some risks to signing Wood, the Lakers believe they’re the right organization to bring out the best in the talented scorer, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Having better defensive personnel around Wood might help mitigate some of his shortcomings on that end, Woike notes.
- The Lakers prioritized finding depth at center because Davis told the team he didn’t want to spend all his regular-season minutes manning the middle, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Davis signed a three-year, maximum-salary extension last month to remain with L.A. long term, so there was motivation from both sides to find another big man to help ease his workload.