Christian Wood

Pacific Notes: Booker, Wood, Hood-Schifino, Queta

Suns star Devin Booker appears ready to commit to the U.S. Olympic team no matter what role he’s asked to play, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Booker expressed his intentions this week in a Twitter exchange with Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma. “USA basketball better get some nba stars that know how to play a role,” Kuzma wrote. “Anybody can be nice with the ball in their hands but can you be cool with defending and going to the corner for a few possessions?”

Booker responded, “I’ll do it.”

Rankin notes that Booker accepted that responsibility two years ago when the U.S. won the gold medal in China. He only averaged 9.3 PPG during that Olympics, but he often guarded the opponent’s best scorer.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Christian Wood projects to play a significant role for the Lakers, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Wood will become the primary backup to Anthony Davis at center and can expect to see a lot of time at power forward as well. Buha adds that L.A. has a lot of interchangeable frontcourt players, with Wood, LeBron James, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Taurean Prince all capable of handling either forward spot, while Davis, Wood and Jaxson Hayes can play either the four or five.
  • Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino has been working to develop his three-point shot this summer, Buha adds in a separate story. The No. 17 pick connected at just 33% from beyond the arc at Indiana last season. “I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “Being in the gym every day, getting up a lot of reps, working on my footwork, my form, mechanics and everything. Getting everything sharp. That’s definitely been a strong point and something that I’ve been really attacking every day.”
  • Neemias Queta, who was waived by the Kings this week, could be an intriguing option for the Warriors, suggests Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Johnson notes the 24-year-old center is still eligible for a two-way contract and Golden State has two slots open. Queta was runner-up in the G League’s MVP voting after averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game with the Stockton Kings. Johnson also points out that Seth Cooper and David Fatoki, who are now in charge of the Warriors’ player development system, got a close look at Queta last year while running Golden State’s G League team.

Heat Notes: Lillard, Starters, Wood, Rebounding

The Heat don’t have any reason to increase their offer for Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard unless they’re determined to have him when training camp opens, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes in a mailbag column. No other team has made a significant offer for Lillard, Chiang notes, so Miami would essentially be bidding against itself by giving more assets to Portland.

Chiang adds that the first step would be for the Heat and Blazers to resume trade discussions, which have been dormant for several weeks. Sources around the league tell Chiang that they expect the teams to start talking again some time before they both open camp in early October.

Chiang also speculates that things might get “messier” in Portland if Lillard is still on the roster at the start of camp, which would mark three months after he submitted his trade request. It’s not ideal for the Heat to start preparing for a new season amid so much uncertainty, so the time pressure could renew both teams’ interest in getting a trade completed.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Without a trade, the Heat’s most likely starting lineup appears to be Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo, Chiang adds in the same piece. Butler and Adebayo are the only full-time starters returning from a team that just reached the NBA Finals a few months ago, although Herro was sidelined with an injury and Lowry and Love both have extensive starting experience. Chiang speculates that Caleb Martin could take Love’s place on occasions when Miami wants to use a smaller starting five, and Herro could be used as a makeshift point guard with Josh Richardson starting alongside him in the backcourt.
  • The Heat were mentioned as a possible destination for Christian Wood before he signed with the Lakers this week, but Miami isn’t in position to make complementary roster moves until it knows what’s going to happen with Lillard, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Wood reportedly had been watching the trade requests involving Lillard and James Harden to see if a situation might open up that would offer him regular playing time, but he decided not to wait any longer to find his next team.
  • Erik Spoelstra’s experience as an assistant coach with Team USA during the World Cup provided him with another example of the need for size on the front line, Winderman adds. The Americans were routinely outrebounded by larger opponents, just as Miami was in losing to the Nuggets in the NBA Finals. The Heat finished 27th in the league in rebounding last season, which may affect Spoelstra’s decision on whom to start at power forward.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Labissiere, Warriors Rookies, Lakers

The Warriors made one of the splashiest moves of the offseason when they acquired Chris Paul from Washington after he was sent to the Wizards by Phoenix in the Bradley Beal trade. Even though the Warriors sent out Jordan Poole in the deal, lineup questions arose for Golden State, who return 2022/23 starters Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney — that could leave CP3 as the odd man out in the starting five.

However, appearing on a recent episode of Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill’s “Good Word With Goodwill” podcast (Podcast link), Andscape’s Marc J. Spears said he expects the Warriors to start Paul.

I do expect him to start. And I think it’s like five-minute spurts,” Spears said on the podcast. “I don’t know that they really want his minutes to be high, but I think they’re gonna try it. I could be wrong, but that’s the gist I’m getting. This isn’t an opinion that he’s expected to start; it’s what I’m hearing. He’s never not started in his career.

As Spears notes, Paul has started in all 1,214 of his NBA appearances. If that streak continues, it means one of the Warriors’ entrenched starters would have to move to the bench. Looney is a natural candidate, but the Warriors are lacking size and going that route would put them at a disadvantage in that regard, since it would make 6’6″ Green and 6’7″ Wiggins the tallest players in the lineup.

We have more notes from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings plan to sign and then waive Skal Labissiere on the same day, meaning he won’t report to the team’s training camp The Kings Beat’s James Ham tweets. This was always the expected outcome for Labissiere, especially after the team secured his G League rights in a trade on Friday. Labissiere, 27, played for the Kings from 2016-19 after being drafted by the team with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He holds career averages of 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 148 NBA appearances between the Kings and the Trail Blazers.
  • Warriors rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis are becoming closer throughout the offseason, recently touring several attractions in San Francisco, Shayna Rubin of The Mercury News writes. Podziemski and Jackson-Davis, who could both play rotational roles for a Warriors team seeking to contend, are becoming acclimated to the city and the franchise, according to Rubin. Rubin reports that the two were part of a players-only mini-camp hosted by Curry at the end of August, and the entire team grew closer as a result of the event.
  • Signing Christian Wood is the latest in a series of flashy Lakers moves this offseason, but Heavy’s Sean Deveney writes that rival executives believe coach Darvin Ham is going to have his hands full with developing and sticking to a rotation. “They’re deep,” the executive said, per Deveney. “They’re 12 deep. That’s great when you look at it on paper. But when happens when the ball goes up and you’re playing nine guys, and one of those guys is playing eight minutes? That gets sticky for a coach. [Ham] is as good as anyone at relating to players, but a depth chart like that can be a coach’s nightmare.” Deveney suggests that Wood wouldn’t have joined the Lakers if his role wasn’t going to be big. Los Angeles also brought in a handful of players in free agency, including Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince, while retaining Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. Second-year player Max Christie is also in line for more playing time.

Lakers Notes: Wood, Davis, Frontcourt Minutes

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.

Christian Wood Signs Two-Year Contract With Lakers

SEPTEMBER 6: Wood is officially a Laker, the team announced (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

SEPTEMBER 5: Unrestricted free agent Christian Wood has agreed to a two-year contract with the Lakers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The second year includes a player option.

The Lakers’ interest in Wood was reported weeks ago and now the two parties have finally come to an agreement. Wood and the Mavericks failed to reach an extension agreement last season and Wood wound up on the open market. However, he didn’t get the type of offers normally conveyed to players who averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds during their walk year.

He had to settle for the veteran’s minimum, which is all the Lakers could offer. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (Twitter link), Wood will make $2,709,849 this upcoming season and $3,036,040 in 2024/25, if he doesn’t opt out.

Wood gives the Lakers 14 players with guaranteed contracts and there’s a good chance they’ll leave the other roster spot open to maintain roster and financial flexibility.

Los Angeles already looked solid in the frontcourt and the addition of Wood gives the Lakers plenty of quality depth. He joins Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jaxson Hayes and Rui Hachimura at the power forward and center spots. LeBron James and Taurean Prince could also see minutes at the ‘4’ position.

Wood appeared in 67 games, including 17 starts, in his lone season with the Mavericks. He was acquired in an offseason deal from Houston.

Wood put up big numbers during his two seasons with the Rockets, including a career-high 21.o points per game during the 202o/21 season. He signed a three-year, $41MM contact with Houston in 2020 after a breakout season with Detroit.

The Lakers will be the eighth NBA franchise on Wood’s resume.

Lakers Notes: Wood, Hachimura, Vanderbilt, Reddish

Anthony Davis played with Christian Wood in New Orleans, while Lakers head coach Darvin Ham briefly worked with Wood as an assistant in Milwaukee, notes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Davis’ and Ham’s familiarity with the free agent big man is one reason why the Lakers targeted him as soon as it became clear he might be attainable for the veteran’s minimum.

[RELATED: Christian Wood Agrees To Two-Year Contract With Lakers]

Although Wood remained on the free agent market for more than two months, he’ll likely enter Los Angeles’ training camp as a candidate to start, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who suggests Wood will battle Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt for a role in the starting five.

Even if he ends up as a reserve, Wood projects to be Davis’ primary backup in the middle and should play approximately 20 minutes per night, Buha writes. He’ll also provide important insurance if Davis has to miss time due to an injury. Given that AD hasn’t played more than 62 games in a season since 2017/18, that’s a pretty viable scenario.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Team sources tell Buha that the Lakers’ roster will likely be set once Wood’s deal is official. That doesn’t mean that the team won’t bring a few more players to training camp on Exhibit 10 contracts, but it means L.A.’s 14 players on guaranteed contracts and three on two-way deals should be the ones who make up the opening-night regular season roster.
  • Shortly after word of Wood’s agreement with the Lakers broke on Tuesday night, he tweeted, “It’s always been my dream to be a Laker.”
  • Recapping the Lakers’ offseason and previewing their upcoming season, Shaun Powell of praises the job that head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has done in 2023 to add complementary talent around LeBron James and Davis, suggesting that whether or not the club contends for a title this season will ultimately be up to those two superstars.
  • In a video clip posted on the Lakers’ official Twitter account, newcomer Cam Reddish said that he’s “really looking forward to” playing with James and Davis. “Two Hall of Fame players,” Reddish said. “I’m just trying to be a sponge, learn everything that I can.”

Southeast Notes: Poole, Howard, Wood, Hawks

In an appearance on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast, Andre Iguodala reveals that he told Jordan Poole he’ll have to become a leader after being traded to the Wizards, relays Tristi Rodriguez of NBC Sports Bay Area. With the Warriors, Poole could lean on a veteran core consisting of Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. He won’t have that in Washington, but Iguodala said Poole is beginning to take on that role.

“He’s already starting to make the right strides,” Iguodala said. “I’ve heard about what he’s been doing with his teammates. The other day, I was asking him about his teammates, and he knew everything about every one of them. And I’m like ‘OK, now we starting off on the right path.’ He brought them all out to L.A. He did! He’s leading.”

Iguodala defended Poole’s final year with the Warriors, which was marked by turmoil leading back to Green’s punch during training camp. Iguodala says Poole continues to improve and should put up even bigger numbers now that he has his “own team.”

“He averaged 20 (points per game) last year, on a bad year. He’s going to get to the line. He’s the only one who got to the line for us last year consistently,” Iguodala said. “People act like he had a bad year. I’m like, ‘OK, a bad year? Y’all blamed him for the year we had last year and he averaged 20.’ (He will average) 25-plus, easy.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After taking some time off following Summer League, Magic rookie Jett Howard is “back in the lab” and getting ready for his rookie season, Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel writes in a subscriber-only piece. Howard has also been watching new teammate Paolo Banchero with Team USA and trying to learn from his approach to the game. “Just how to be useful in any position that they put you in,” Howard said. “He’s like a Swiss Army knife. That holds value itself. He can guard the 1 through 5 and we look up to that.”
  • The Heat don’t appear to have any interest in Christian Wood, even at the veteran’s minimum, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel states in a mailbag column. There may not be consistent minutes for Wood considering the other players in Miami’s front court, and Winderman doesn’t believe the team wants to hand out another guaranteed contract given the uncertainty over Damian Lillard.
  • Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle looks at how Grant Liffmann was able to rise from a Warriors post-game TV host to a vice president’s role with the Hawks.

And-Ones: Washington, Available FAs, Player Tiers, CBA

Exploring possible destinations for some of the top remaining free agents, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggests that many people around the league think that P.J. Washington – the only standard restricted free agent still on the board – will eventually accept his qualifying offer from the Hornets. Pincus also confirms that the Lakers have conveyed interest in big man Christian Wood.

In considering a potential landing spot for Kelly Oubre, who averaged more than 20 points per game last season, Pincus notes that Memphis makes some sense. While it’s not clear if the Grizzlies have actually expressed interest in Oubre, Pincus points out that they haven’t really replaced Dillon Brooks at forward and have some young players – such as Ziaire Williams or Josh Christopher – who might appeal to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade scenario.

Here are a few more odds and ends from the league:

  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic has published the first two installments of his player tier rankings for the 2023/24 season. Breaking down the top 125 players of the league into five tiers, Partnow lists 45 players in tier five – including Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson and Raptors forward Scottie Barnes – and 41 more in tier four, such as Kings center Domantas Sabonis, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Partnow’s top three tiers will consist of 39 players and will presumably be posted later this week.
  • Now that hoarding cap room into the regular season is no longer a viable strategy, Rob Mahoney of The Ringer wonders how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change the way that rebuilding teams approach future offseasons.
  • With no sign that the Damian Lillard or James Harden situations will be resolved anytime soon, John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether the NBA’s player empowerment era has reached its ceiling. During the last several years, stars who ask for trades have sought increasingly specific destinations despite having less and less leverage, Hollinger observes, adding that the outcomes for Lillard and Harden could create new benchmarks for future star trade requests.

Heat Notes: Wade, Wood, Standard Roster, New Additions

Former Heat legend Dwyane Wade spoke at length with Sopan Deb of The New York Times on the eve of his Hall of Fame induction. The shooting guard was a 13-time All-Star and won three titles while in Miami.

Wade discussed a variety of topics with Deb, including a potential political career, his relationships with fellow Hall of Famers and longtime rivals Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, watching old game tape of himself in his prime, and why he’s having his hero Allen Iverson induct him.

“I think a lot of people know I wear No. 3, but a lot of people don’t know why I wear No. 3,” Wade said. Iverson’s jersey during his playing career was also No. 3. “And so I just wanted to take this moment as an opportunity that is supposed to be about me, and I wanted to be able to shine light and give flowers to individuals that allow me and help me get here.”

In 1054 career regular season bouts, the 6’4″ superstar out of Marquette had career averages of 22.0 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 0.8 BPG.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Free agent big man Christian Wood is reportedly eyeing the reigning Eastern Conference champs. In a conversation with Trevor Lane of Laker Nation (YouTube video link), The Athletic’s Jovan Buha indicated that Wood is contemplating latching on with the Heat. “Christian Wood, from my understanding, is interested in a potential role in Miami — depending on what players are involved in that [Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard] trade,” Buha said. “If they add [Portland center Jusuf Nurkic] I think that frontcourt is set. If they don’t and get rid of [second-year power forward Nikola Jovic], can Wood come in and outplay [power forward Kevin Love] and [reserve center Thomas Bryant]?”
  • In a new mailbag, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes that the Heat’s rush of roster moves Friday doesn’t impact their vision for the 15-man standard roster. He cautions that the club may not opt to fill its two open standard spots with any current free agents, at least not prior to a Lillard trade.
  • The Heat made several fringe roster moves on Friday, which Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald unpack in a thorough piece. Miami inked forward Jamal Cain to a two-way deal, while signing Caleb Daniels, Alondes Williams, Cole Swider and Justin Champagnie to Exhibit 10 contracts. The duo notes that 13 players are currently signed to standard deals, all three of the Heat’s two-way slots are occupied, and the club now has five players inked to Exhibit 10 agreements.

Heat Notes: Wood, Lillard, Shooters, Robinson

Christian Wood is one of the most prominent names left on the free agent market. Wood’s stats last year, 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, would typically lead to an offer in the opening days of free agency. But nearly a month and a half into the 2023/24 league year, Wood remains on the market, with little more than minimum contract offers available. However, according to Heavy’s Sean Deveney, Wood has options.

While Wood could accept a veteran’s minimum offer (worth approximately $2.7MM for a player with seven years of experience) from the Heat or the Lakers, it would be significantly less than what he made last year: $14.3MM. According to Deveney, Wood has hope that a higher offer than $2.7MM will emerge but, at the very least, he has that minimum contract to fall back on if that doesn’t pan out.

There is no reason for him to hurry, the roster spots are there and unless there is a chance the Lakers make a move to sign someone else, why not wait to see if something better becomes available?” a league executive told Heavy. “What if Miami makes the [Damian Lillard] trade and winds up with a little more [luxury-tax] space? They could make a better offer. Not a ton more, but it is not the minimum. That’s the wild card for [Wood].

According to Deveney, the Lakers are viewed around the league as the favorite to land Wood but there are multiple routes for Miami to create more cap flexibility in a potential Lillard move. If the Heat wind up sending out all of their trade-chip major salaries, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, they could create more space under the $182.5MM second tax apron to sign Wood at a salary slightly above the minimum.

Even if not all of those pieces are moved, there are ways for the Heat to create space to sign Wood to a deal around $5MM annually, according to Deveney. Deveney says that if a trade involving Herro, Robinson, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic occurs, the Heat could look to sign Wood to the aforementioned $5MM.

Wood’s summer seems to have two potential endings, as of now, according to Deveney. If a Lillard trade occurs and the Heat wish to sign Wood, he’s likely Miami-bound. If a Lillard trade doesn’t happen or the Heat wish to fill out the roster with only minimum contracts, Wood would likely head to the Lakers.

We have more from Miami:

  • While Miami is Lillard’s only reported preferred destination, it doesn’t automatically mean that he’s going to be sent there. Lillard could stay in place to open the season or he could be sent elsewhere entirely. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required) makes the case for the other 28 teams in the league to make a trade for Lillard. Winderman breaks the other 28 teams in the league into categories. He lists 16 teams as already having their point guard of the future, three as being on different timelines than Lillard and four lacking necessary trade assets, leaving five other realistic potential suitors. Winderman lists the Celtics, Nets, Pelicans, Sixers and Jazz as the teams who could realistically make a move for Lillard. However, I wouldn’t count out the Raptors from making a move for the seven-time All-Star.
  • Winderman, writing in a recent mailbag, argues that the Heat need to have three-point shooting insurance in the event that Robinson and Herro are moved. In that scenario, the Heat would have lost Herro, Gabe Vincent, and three-point specialists Robinson and Max Strus, in the same offseason. Cole Swider and Drew Peterson have the potential to turn into that, but both have currently just verbally agreed to training camp contracts. Winderman argues that keeping Robinson could be a priority, so that the Heat maintain some consistency with their shooters.
  • In another recent mailbag, Winderman explored reader questions about potential obstacles that would cause the Heat to not make a trade for Lillard. A possible fine or other punishment from the league following their recent memo can’t be ruled out. Additionally, the Heat could be wary of sending out all of their young assets, such as both Jaquez and Jovic. However, Winderman doesn’t view either of those as legitimate roadblocks.