The Los Angeles Lakers filled one of their final two open roster spots by signing big man Christian Wood to a two-year, $5.7 million contract on September 6. A native of Long Beach, California, Wood said it was his “dream” to play for the Lakers.
But Anthony Davis’ influence may be what finally got a deal done.
“It turns out his dream coincides with the desires of L.A.’s most important player: Anthony Davis,” wrote Dave McMenamin of ESPN on September 7. “Sources told ESPN that Davis made it clear to the organization he wanted to have more support at center so he wouldn’t have to play so much 5 during the regular season.”
Davis saw just 29 possessions at power forward for the Lakers, per Cleaning The Glass. But his desire to play power forward is not a new issue.
“I like playing the four, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it,” Davis said via the Lakers during his introductory press conference in 2019. “I like playing the four. I don’t really like playing the five. But, if it comes down to it … and you need me to play the five, then I’ll play the five.”
Davis has not played primarily at power forward since the 2020-21 season.
He averaged 25.9 points on a career-high 62.7% true shooting with 12.5 rebounds (also a career-high), and 2.6 assists last season and inked a three-year, $186 million contract this offseason. While adding Wood may not allow Davis to play power forward more, it will allow the Lakers to rest him more.
“Wood could become a steal,” wrote McMenamin. “He could use the Lakers’ platform … to reestablish value and gain an even bigger role if James or Davis miss any significant time.”
Christian Wood Takes Shot at Mavericks
Wood’s departure from Dallas was not without some animosity, with the big man noting to Marc Spears of ESPN and Andscape that it added fuel to the fire.
“Communication with a coach is a big key,” Wood said, per Spears on September 6. “Coach Ham and I go back to our Milwaukee days and we’ve had great conversations everyday about this opportunity. He believes in me and told me I’ll be playing a big role and knows what I can do. I’m looking forward to this and fasure motivated after what Dallas did.”
He also reiterated that he “always” wanted to be a Laker and said “I know” they can win a title.
More Depth at Darvin Ham’s Disposal
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham boasted of the team’s improved depth going into this season, noting that he believes the “sky’s the limit”.
But Ham also added an important caveat to them living up to that.
“You need to execute and have a team full of guys who are willing to sacrifice … to align themselves with what the team goal is and that’s to win the championship,” Ham said, per Leonard Solms of ESPN on August 14. “At the end of the day, it’s a team sport and the team that’s most together … those are usually the teams that come out on top.”