Even though center Christian Wood had a strong campaign for the Dallas Mavericks in 2023, the franchise decided to move on from after he became an unrestricted free agent this summer.
After he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, he appeared to criticize the Mavs, which did not go over well with Dallas star Kyrie Irving, who fired back at the newest Laker and the “smear campaign” he created.
“Smear campaigns are created by all the cowards in our world,” Irving wrote September 6 on X, formerly Twitter. “They throw their rocks and then hide in the crowd and hope you crash out. And when you find out who it was/is and see them in person, go check their temperature face to face lol, I promise you their energy is different.”
Wood said he was “motivated after what Dallas did,” according to Andscape’s Marc J. Spears.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Wood agreed to join the Lakers on a two-year deal.
Christian Wood Sounds Off on Joining Lakers
Wood, who will turn 28 on September 26, joins a core highlighted by Anthony Davis and LeBron James. He said he believed he can be one of the players who help the Lakers raise another championship banner.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Laker,” Wood said, according to Spear. “I know we can win a championship. Communication with a coach is a big key. Coach [Darvin] Ham and I go back to our Milwaukee days, and we have had great conversations every day about this opportunity. He believes in me and told me I will be playing a big role and knows what I can do.”
Wood has had issues throughout his career, including showing some “real deficiencies” on defense, according to Sports Illustrated’s Matt Levine.
“The effort there has frustrated teammates and coaches during his past stops,” Levine wrote in July 2023. “There have also been issues with his professionalism at times, which will be a problem if he is on a LeBron James-led team.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike raised concerns about Wood’s fitting in with the team.
“There’s risk in signing Wood, that the problems that have put him on seven teams in seven seasons would come with him to Los Angeles,” Woike wrote in July, when the notion of Wood’s joining the Lakers was just speculation. “Maybe the market forcing him to accept a minimum contract would lead to more acceptance of his role. Or maybe it would just lead to more grousing about being underused and underappreciated.”
Ex-Maverick Sends Warning on Sports Gambling
With sports betting going live in Kentucky on September 7, 35 states now have legalized live sports betting.
Former Maverick Stevin “Headake” Smith warned that sports betting could become “dangerous” in the future.
“It is a dangerous road for all these leagues. You just never know who is in on the fix. Could be a player. A coach. A ref. People just do not understand. And now that there are loose laws and teams moving to Las Vegas, man, it’s like open season,” Smith said to Sports Illustrated. “Something’s going to happen at some point. No doubt.”