Lakers ‘Salary-Dump’ Trade Candidate Issues Warning on ‘Comeback’

Lakers big man Christian Wood

Getty Lakers big man Christian Wood

It most likely did not come as a surprise to most observers of the Lakers of recent vintage that, when discussing how the organization might approach a salary-dump trade to create wiggle room around the so-called “second apron” of the NBA’s luxury tax, big man Christian Wood was tabbed as one of the favorites to be the subject of that dump.

After all, Wood came to Los Angeles in a bit of a desperate state last offseason, unable to land a major contract elsewhere and ultimately signing a two-year minimum deal worth $5.7 million with a player option for the second year. Neither Wood nor the Lakers much expected him to pick up that Year 2 option, but after an unimpressive year with L.A. (6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 50 games), Wood risked being run out of the league if he had not exercised his option.

News that the Lakers might like to jettison him was expected. But it still apparently rubbed Wood the wrong way, and he offered a bit of a warning on the 2024-25 season. “The come back is going to be elite,” he wrote on Twitter/X this week.

Christian Wood Underwent Knee Surgery

Maybe. But it’s highly doubtful that comeback will happen with the Lakers, not after Wood’s many warts were on full display with the team last season. He is an excellent scorer, no doubt, but his inability to defend his position—or to help with others’ positions—rendered him a sore spot in the Lakers rotation.

That, and his lack of attention to detail on both ends of the floor, have been what has held back his career through nine seasons. It would be great if Wood could put things together here in Year 10, but observers hoping for that outcome would be wise to not get their hopes too high.

The Lakers were 9-10 when Wood played 20 minutes or more, and 19-12 when he played but was limited to 19 minutes or fewer. They were 19-13 when he did not play at all—Wood missed the entire second half of the season, plus the playoffs, after having a knee surgery in February.

If the Lakers need to unload a salary in order to make a bigger move, Wood would just make sense.

Lakers Prioritizing Jaxson Hayes?

Again, it’s not a big surprise to find that the Lakers would be willing to dump Wood. But the most recent assertion of that fact comes from Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who was speaking on his podcast this week.

As he said, via, the Lakers still like young big man Jaxson Hayes, more than Wood. Said Buha:

“As I’ve also said before on here, I’ve heard Christian Wood and Cam Reddish would be the two most likely guys to be salary-dumped.

“Now, maybe a team pushes to get Jaxson Hayes and when it comes down to it, the Lakers decided there isn’t much a difference between Hayes and Wood but my understanding, the Lakers would prioritize keeping Hayes in comparison with Hayes and Reddish.”

That is damning Hayes with faint praise, of course—he played 70 games and averaged just 4.3 points in 12.5 minutes, and the fact is, the Lakers would like to scrap the entire big man crew around Anthony Davis and start over. That’s a highly unlikely outcome.

More likely is that Wood gets dumped. The elite comeback then could come to fruition, just not in L.A.

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