Okay, so the deadline is approaching February 10, and the Houston Rockets have some interesting choices to make on Christian Wood. Wood will bring back great value of draft picks and players from other NBA teams. There has always been a heap of interest in Wood before the season started, as he mentioned it during media day. “For the first time in my career, I saw myself in trade talks…I’m even more motivated than I was before,” Wood said.
There have been nights when Wood has looked out of place on offense and defense. It almost feels like his 20 points and 10 rebounds tickle opposing teams. It’s not a constant effect that the other team is feeling or fearing. But Wood is still getting along with his teammates, which is good.
But problems have occurred, as it was seen versus the Golden State Warriors on November 7. He went the entire first-half without attempting a shot. Wood started to feel a little bit better in the second half, but still took only five shots, which resulted in four points. He mentioned before that game he wasn’t involved enough on offense and was not happy with his touches. Honestly, my vision sucks, but I thought Wood got enough touches already.
On the season, Wood has a 23.3 usage percentage. Wood does average 13.3 shots per game, which is down from 15.6 in the 2020-2021 season. In my opinion, Wood settles more for jump shots than attacking the rim unless it’s a lob or pick-and-roll. Wood is still getting 66 percent of his shots near the rim, but the percentage could be higher.
If Wood was a better post up player, he’d average more in touches and points. Wood is in the 47.7(!) percentile in post ups per Synergy. His size at 214lbs could be the reason why he doesn’t post up as much. He needs a system that will challenge him inside and outside of his game on the court.
Another note: He needs more accountability on his plate. Tim MacMahon of ESPN already reported the debacle of him not showing up on time for a COVID testing and holding up shootaround before the game. It all led up to John Lucas, another young player, and him having a back-and-forth about accountability.
I just think Wood no longer fits the timeline of the Rockets. He has only had one 30-point plus game this season, and with his accolades, he should have more. At 6’10”, Wood should be putting up beast numbers, and it hasn’t been seen yet.
On a good note: His rebounding has improved. Do I think Wood is a good player? Hell yes. But his time with the Rockets needs to end. Zak Noble of Ball is Life gave me a hand on finding trades for Wood. Nathan Fogg of Tea and Rockets discussed the trade ideas with me, which was fun. He has an interesting mind on Xs and Os in the NBA.
Zach Allen: What’s Good, bro? How is England treating you?
Glad you can join this discussion on where to send Christian Wood so it can benefit both sides. Rafael Stone has a great track record of getting good value back and making the player he sent out happy with his situation. My boy Zak helped me out with trade ideas for Wood and thought these were cool. Let’s begin.
First one is sending Wood to the Sacramento Kings for Marvin Bagley and a 2022 first-round pick, which is good to me. Bagley hasn’t been the player everyone expected, but the upside is there. He has put up good numbers in the past. The former Duke Blue Devil prodigy put a consistent 14 points per game the last three seasons. Bagley is a decent floor spacer, but he is shooting a career average of 29.9 percent at the three-point line. Bagley does struggle on defense, but it’s nothing Lucas can’t fix.
For an odd reason, former Kings coach Luck Walton cut his minutes before he was fired. Interim head coach Alvin Gentry is giving Bagley his minutes back. While Walton was the coach, the Kings tried offering Bagley on the trading block. Bagley and Walton did not see eye-to-eye. It was seen that Walton tried to check Bagley in for garbage minutes but he refused to go in. Bagley could need a new start. He is a former lotto pick and is only 22-years-old. So there is still time for him.
Nathan Fogg: Hey man, thanks for having me. It’s cold and wet here, so pretty much like any other day. This trade is about the pick to me. I don’t buy that you can improve a fourth-year player’s defense that easily, and Houston hardly has a culture right now where you can absorb a player into their system and hide some weaknesses - as we did in the Jeff Bzdelik switching years.
If we’re shipping Wood out we need to be thinking long term about defense next to Alperen Sengun. Take Bagley as a flier, sure, but this isn’t an asset to me. It all comes down to the pick.
It’s top 10 right now, which might get you Bennedict Mathurin, one of the best shooters in the draft. Or it could get you AJ Griffin, a powerful 6’6” wing who is showing his scoring prowess inside and out, and is thriving in Duke’s recent small-ball lineups. I’d do this in a heartbeat.
I don’t consider Alvin Gentry a great coach and I don’t consider Sacramento likely to jump up in the standings. Every team above them is desperate to win too. I just think this one is unlikely from their viewpoint. They already have Richaun Holmes, who they just gave a new contract to in the summer, and a two-big lineup is a risk, as they will have seen this year in Houston.
All this changes if Sacramento trades for Ben Simmons. If they make that move, they have to get a floor-spacing five, and Houston should be their first call. What picks are still available after they agree terms with Philadelphia is where it gets tricky. Rafael Stone and his old boss will have to argue about what picks go where.
Allen: This trade idea I came up by myself honestly. Rocket fans do love the idea of Lonnie Walker, so why not him and Devin Vassell? The Rockets have a good amount of guards, but I can’t help it because I love the guard position. Plus Walker and Vassell are human highlight reels of athleticism. Like Jalen Green, they are great in transition because of their gifted speed. Vassell will eventually be a defensive threat like Mikal Bridges because of his wingspan. He has a 107.8 defensive rating this season for the San Antonio Spurs.
Fogg: The rumor-mill recently spun out a story that Toronto is interested in Jakob Poetl, which would certainly give San Antonio a need for a center. However, I can’t personally imagine Christian Wood playing for Coach Popovich. He might be the player that finally makes him retire.
I would love to be able to throw out 48 minutes of Devin Vassell and Jae’Sean Tate on the wings, although I would love a little less making a decision on Lonnie Walker’s free agency after a year where he’s shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep. I’m suddenly getting excited about a Porter Jr./Jalen Green/Devin Vassell/Jabari Smith/Alperen Sengun lineup, and I blame you.
San Antonio doesn’t make moves like this, and I doubt they are going to give up on a second-year guy they picked 11th overall who has shown he deserved that high pick. Vassell came into the league immediately showing his defensive skills, and he’s not far off being in All-Defense consideration. This year they’ve been investing in his offense with some pick-and-roll ball handling duties. That doesn’t sound like a player they’re interested in moving. I say yes, San Antonio says no.
Rumours aside, I think they’d rather just keep Poetl, who has become one of the best defensive bigs around, and one of the most underrated players in basketball.
Allen: Last one. Wood to Portland for Anfernee Simons and Jursuf Nurkic. Nurkic has an expiring deal with $12 million dollars left on his contract. The Rockets just need Nurkic included so it can make the deal go through. Simons would be a great addition next to Kevin Porter Jr. and Green. He is having a phenomenal season for the Portland Trailblazers, as Damian Lillard could be out for the season because of an abdominal injury. Simons is averaging 14 points per game while having shooting splits of 44.3/39.2/94.3.
Fogg: Last year, I was desperate for an Eric Gordon/Anfernee Simons trade. They needed win-now moves, and if Gordon were healthy and playing then like he is now, maybe it could have happened. But Portland were smart to keep hold of Simons. He’s blossomed into a very efficient 2-guard, and you’re right, he would look great in a Houston uniform.
To me, this is a move that doesn’t match Portland’s timeline. They’ve just shut down Dame for a while due to a long-standing abdominal injury, and I think they’re hoping for a top pick to either start a rebuild, or dangle in trades over the summer.
Wood is only 26, with fewer than 200 games under his belt, so it’s certainly conceivable that Portland could view him just as Houston did when they traded for him when James Harden was asking out - a great complementary piece to your star, or a building block for the future if he leaves.
I think Simons has outplayed trade talks right now, but with Robert Covington on the block, there’s potential for a three-team trade there. Covington hasn’t shone in Portland like he did in Houston, but I expect there will still be significant interest around the league.
Houston could take on the pick Portland gets for him, as well as Portland’s second this year, which could be in the high 30s. In a weak draft, this isn’t significant on its own, but packaged together with the Brooklyn or Miami pick that Houston owns in the mid 20s, it could give them the valuable ability to move up. As a complete aside, I’d love Covington back one day as a veteran who can help Sengun with his weak side shot blocking.
I think we got to shake hands on about 0.5 out of three there, but that doesn’t mean Wood won’t have suitors around the league. Putting him in the pick-and-roll with LaMelo Ball in Charlotte with three-and-D wings around him could immediately place them as the “best of the rest” team in the East.
Toronto could look to swing for both him and Eric Gordon as they look for win-now moves. Boston reportedly had interest last summer too. And with Atlanta as another potential trade destination for Ben Simmons, I see them as a likely destination too. Houston will be open for business this trade deadline and you’ll likely see the Wood trade rumors start to heat up pretty soon.