Proposed Blockbuster Brings Heat Star Big Man & Lockdown Defender

Christian Wood Rockets

Getty Houston Rockets big man Christian Wood reacts after slam dunking the basketball during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The days and hours before the NBA trade deadline hits are a magical time for hardcore hoop-heads. Whether you’re talking about the Miami Heat, the lottery-chasing Thunder in OKC or some squad in between, as fans see it, there’s always a chance that the big trade that changes everything is right around the corner.

If that window for deal-making remains ajar, the next Woj bomb could drop at any second, right?

In reality, though, even the most obvious trades can hit a hurdle or two in the Association. And some teams, for all their desire to land a whopper, just can’t get it together. Such is apparently the case for the Houston Rockets and the Heat who, as reported by’s Steve Bulpett, may have kicked the tires on a Christian Wood-Duncan Robinson swap.

The sense is that the Rockets want more out of the trade. If that is, indeed, the case, here’s one deal with the potential to satisfy their thirst for more while netting Miami some pieces for a big title push.

A Trade for the Heat’s Present and the Rockets’ Future

The Heat are facing slim margins from a cap standpoint, but the following deal nonetheless gets Wood into the fold, adds another useful player and only really costs them one significant asset beyond Robinson:

  • Miami Heat receive: F/C Christian Wood and G/F David Nwaba
  • Houston Rockets get: G/F Duncan Robinson, F KZ Okpala and a 2024 first-round pick (top-five protected)

Wood, who is currently averaging 17.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and a combined 1.7 blocks/steals per contest, could make for an ideal pairing with Bam Adebayo in Miami’s frontcourt. While the 2020 All-Star owns the paint, Wood could pull opposing defenses out to the perimeter, in addition to providing a threat in the mid-range or as a driver or roll man.

For the year, he’s shooting 37% from deep on five attempts per contest. He’s also averaging 4.4 drives per contest.

Moreover, Wood’s underreported defensive versatility could help Adebayo and Co. better contend with Joel Embiid and other quality bigs come playoff time.

Nwaba, meanwhile, is a complementary piece that screams “Heat Culture.” Offensively, he’s not much of a perimeter threat. However, he converts at a 65.3% rate within three feet of the hoop this season. On the other end, he plays significantly bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame, brings hard-nosed defense every night, rebounds and has one of the better motors you’ll find league-wide; he’ll lock it down or die trying.

He’s actually the only player involved in the deal with a positive RAPTOR score this season, via FiveThirtyEight, and he’s positive on both sides of the ball.

Also: his contract is one that should be easily tradeable; he’ll make $5 million next season and there’s a team option worth around the same amount for 2023-24.

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The Compensation

At this point, Houston is building for years yet to come, and Robinson is probably just young enough at 27 to be a part of the team’s next iteration, provided he returns to form. Or the Rockets can use him to procure future assets via trade from a contender looking to add his elite floor-spacing ability.

The Rockets also get a valuable first-round pick with a level of protection that makes it possible for them to get a high pick, while still protecting the Heat’s interests in the event that something goes really wrong sometime in the next few years.

As for Okpala, it has become clear that Miami isn’t his spot, as he has yet to earn a rotational spot after three years in the Heat’s vaunted player development program. However, he’s still just 22 and his physical tools may make him attractive to a team like the Rockets as a developmental piece or an asset.


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