Heat Let Rumored Trade Target Pass as Big Man Dealt to West Foe

Christian Wood, formerly of the Rockets

Getty Christian Wood, formerly of the Rockets

In February, around the NBA trade deadline, there were conversations. The Miami Heat, wondering if maybe they needed more up front alongside star big man Bam Adebayo, engaged with the Rockets in talks about forward/center Christian Wood, which likely would have involved sending out slumping shooter Duncan Robinson and a young asset.

The talks, according to sources around the league, never got much critical mass, though, and Wood remained with the Rockets. There was a chance that the Heat could re-ignite that conversation here ahead of the draft, but, ultimately, it was the Mavericks who made the move, sending away four bit players and the rights to the No. 26 overall pick for Wood.

Houston will receive, in addition to the pick, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and Sterling Brown in the deal. Those players were not much of a factor for Dallas—they combined to log 1,243 minutes last season, only a little more than 6% of the team’s total minutes played. Houston probably won’t keep any of those players on board going forward.

That means that Wood was likely there for the taking if the Heat had determined they wanted him. Like Dallas did, Miami could get around restrictions on dealing away the rights to their No. 27 pick by agreeing to make the pick for Houston and trading it after. That’s what Dallas will do at No. 26.

Heat Searching for ‘More’ According to Pat Riley

There has been speculation about the Heat’s intentions this offseason going back to their elimination from the playoffs in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. At his end-of-season press conference, team president Pat Riley told the media the team was open to trading for another star player, after having added Kyle Lowry last season.

“I think we all realize you can always use more,” Riley said at the time. “We’re always gonna try to improve the team. … We will look. We will explore. We always do this.”

Robinson remains the team’s most plausible trade chip, either on his own or packaged with some combination of young players and the No. 27 pick this year.

Wood Blossomed With the Rockets

Wood led the Rockets in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds last season. But he was a late bloomer in the NBA, bouncing through four teams—the Sixers, Hornets, Bucks and Pelicans—before landing with the Pistons where, in his fifth professional season, Wood finally put together a credible season. He translated that production into a three-year, $41 million contract as part of a sign-and-trade with Houston, in November 2020.

Wood blossomed in two seasons with the Rockets, but Houston feared losing him as a free agent after this season. The Rockets are also deep into a rebuilding scenario now, and Wood’s age (27) made him a bit too advanced for what Houston is trying to do. He is slated to make a very reasonable $14.3 million this season, and the Mavericks could look to make a long-term commitment to him.

Wood has been mentioned in trade rumors going back almost a year now, and told The Athletic in February, just ahead of the trade deadline, “I just continue to play my game. Continue to hoop. If anything, it’s motivation. I know all 30 teams are watching, regardless if I’m in a trade talk or not. Just motivation to keep going. It gives me a little extra step when I step on the floor.”

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