Christian Wood Could Choose Heat Over Lakers Based on 1 ‘Wildcard’: Exec

Christian Wood, potential Lakers and Heat free-agent signee

Getty Christian Wood, potential Lakers and Heat free-agent signee

For Christian Wood, the offers stand. He could join the Miami Heat if he so chose. He could join the Los Angeles Lakers. The only caveat: He would have to accept a veteran’s minimum deal, worth $2.46 million, down considerably from the $14.3 million he made last year as he wrapped up his previous contract in Dallas.

Wood would make a decision now, except that, as veteran reporter Marc Stein pointed out in his most recent newsletter, “Dallas remains open to facilitating a sign-and-trade for Wood if the Mavericks can acquire a player they like in the exchange.” Neither the Heat nor the Lakers—nor anyone else at this point—is offering a player the Mavs like in exchange for Wood.

However, Stein wrote, the Lakers “maintained a level of interest in signing (Wood).”

So why doesn’t Wood just make up his mind already and pick a minimum contract destination? Well, because he always has hope.

“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?” one league exec told Heavy Sports. “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 wildcard for (Wood).”

Heat Could Create More Wiggle Room for Wood

Around the NBA, the Lakers are considered the frontrunner to land Wood, but the Lillard situation could change that. If the Heat pull off a mega-deal in which they send out three major salaries—Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson—there is a chance they could create ample space under the luxury tax’s “second apron” and could offer Wood more than the minimum.

Miami has not used its $5 million taxpayer midlevel exception, and it has three significant unused trade exceptions on hand—for Victor Oladipo ($9 million), for Dewayne Dedmon ($4.7 million) and for Max Strus ($7.2 million). But the Heat are just about $4 million shy of the $182.5 million “second apron” on the luxury tax, which comes with so many penalties it acts a sort-of hard cap.

Even if the Heat did a lesser deal with the Blazers, in which Herro, Robinson and players like Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez were sent out for Lillard, the Heat would create enough room under the second apron to bring on Wood, a player they’ve been interested in adding for more than two years, with an offer around $5 million.

Wood Averaged 16.6 Points Last Season in Dallas

But the waiting game will only get more difficult for all sides. The Mavericks have made it clear that Wood will not be coming back, despite a decent offensive showing last year—he averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, on very good shooting numbers (51.5% from the field, 37.6% from the 3-point line). His defensive deficiencies on a team that is focused on getting better on that side of the ball left him without a home there, though.

He could fit well with the Lakers, who want to play more double-big lineups with Anthony Davis, Jaxson Hayes and Jarred Vanderbilt already in place. His defensive hiccups could be more easily masked in those lineups.

But Miami may be where slightly more money is. So Wood, like much of the NBA, sits and hopes for news of a Lillard trade. Without that wildcard, he probably is Los Angeles-bound.



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