L.A. Lakers Sign Forward Christian Wood to Two-Year Deal

Posted on: September 6, 2023, 02:48h. 

Last updated on: September 6, 2023, 03:29h.

Power forward Christian Wood has accepted a significant pay cut to join the Los Angeles Lakers and help them win an NBA championship.

Christian Wood Lakers
Power forward Christian Wood, seen here attempting a 3-point shot, will join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. (Image: AP)

The Lakers and Chicago Bulls were both interested in adding Wood via free agency. The Bulls had the opportunity to offer Wood more money due to a salary cap injury exemption with point guard Lonzo Ball. But Wood decided to head to Hollywood instead of the Windy City.

The Lakers inked Wood to a two-year deal worth $5.7 million. The new contract will pay wood $2.7 million this season. Wood has a player option for next season worth $3 million.

Wood accepted a massive discount to play with LeBron James and pursue a championship. He earned $14.3 million last season with the Dallas Mavericks, and he averaged $13.3 million per year during a two-season stint with the bottom-feeding Houston Rockets.

Wood averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game with the Mavs last season. He shot 51.5% from the floor and 37.6% from 3-point range.

Wood is currently +3000 odds to win the 2024 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

Lakers Bolster Front Line with Wood, Hayes

Wood will join center Jaxon Hayes as the two most recent free agent signings for the Lakers. He is expected to come off the bench and back up Davis. But he could also slide into the center position if head coach Darvin Ham opts for a small-ball lineup.

Wood is versatile and can play power forward and center, while providing steady perimeter shooting. He was ranked in the top four for high-volume 3-point-shooting big men last season. Wood was one of four players who were 6-foot-10 or taller that knocked down at least 100 treys in each of the last two seasons. He joined an exclusive group that included Lauri Markkanen from the Utah Jazz, Jaren Jackson Jr. from the Memphis Grizzlies, and Nikola Vucevic from the Bulls.

All-Star Anthony Davis can now focus on playing more power forward and less center this upcoming season. Davis struggled with injuries during his career, especially since joining the Lakers. The addition of Hayes and Wood means Davis can avoid logging significant minutes at center. Davis will not have to bang down low with the bruisers in the Western Conference like Nikola Jokic, Steven Adams, Deandre Ayton, and Jonas Valanciunas.

Davis missed 26 games last season, missed 42 games in 2021-22, and missed 36 games in the 2020-21. Overall, Davis missed 104 games since his first season with the Lakers. The Lakers won the NBA championship during Davis’ first year in L.A. during the 2019-20 season. In the three subsequent seasons, the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and failed to qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back years.

Lakers on the Futures Market

The Lakers were 43-39 last season, and secured the #7 seed in the Western Conference through the play-in tournament. They defeated the #2 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, and then picked off the #6 Golden State Warrors in the conference semifinals.

The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals before they ran out of gas and were swept by the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets would eventually defeat the Miami Heat in the 2023 NBA Finals.

James mulled retirement for a brief moment after they were swept by the Nuggets, but will run it back with the Lakers for at least one more season. The Lakers do not know how many more seasons James will remain with the team. He has a player option worth $51.4 million for the 2024-25 season.

Oddsmakers installed the Lakers with a win total of 47.5 over/under next season. The Lakers are -380 odds to make the playoffs, according to DraftKings. They’re +285 to miss the postseason.

The Lakers are +1200 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship as the sixth-highest team on the futures board. The Lakers are +750 odds to win the Western Conference for the first time since 2019-20.

The Phoenix Suns are the consensus favorite to win the Pacific Division at +165 odds after they added Bradley Beal in a trade with the Washington Wizards. The Suns are ahead of the Golden State Warriors (+320), Lakers (+330), L.A. Clippers (+550), and Sacramento Kings (+900).