June 25, 2022

The Houston Rockets traded Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks for Boban Marjanovic, Marquese Chriss, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown and the 26th pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

Popular opinion on social media is that the Mavericks are the big winners in this trade, as it puts them in a low risk, high reward situation. Understandably, some Houston fans expressed disappointment with their compensation for Wood.

Wood has been Houston’s most valuable player the past two seasons, averaging 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Prior to his ankle injury in 2021, there was a legitimate chance the center would earn an NBA All-Star selection.

In contrast, the Rockets’ new additions occupied the Dallas bench for most of last season. It’s debatable whether this trade package is a competitive bid for a team’s top scorer and rebounder.

The reality is that a trade of this magnitude can speed up or prolong the process of rebuilding a franchise by years. Let’s see why there is concern behind this surprising decision.

Player Assets

Every player involved in this trade has a contract expiring in 2023, including Wood. That being said, will the acquisition of consumable players from Dallas benefit the Houston roster for the one season they are committed to? Probably not.

It will be surprising if Marjanovic, Chriss, Burke and Brown make Houston’s roster in 2023. Their contracts are worth $2 million less than Wood’s. Because of this, the only real upside from this trade is the 26th pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft.

Draft Picks

The Rockets now hold numbers 3, 17 and 26 in the draft. It’s likely that Houston’s front office will use its later picks to execute another trade on draft night.

However, a misconception of the draft is that acquiring various draft picks will lead to acquiring various talented players. In reality, even with early selections, franchises are banking on their youth to become stars.

The last time Houston drafted a future NBA All-Star was in 2002, using their number one pick on Yao Ming. That’s not to say solid players haven’t been drafted since then, like Clint Capella, only that the Rockets rarely benefit greatly from picks outside of the lottery.

Chemistry

Sources say the main purpose of this trade is to create more playing time for upcoming Alperen Sengun and Houston selections. One concern is that the Turkish native and the Rockets’ future draft acquisitions are barely 20 years old. It can take several seasons to develop a young nucleus, which is not guaranteed to reach its full potential.

At 26, Wood is at the height of his career and has established himself as one of the best options as a player. It’s important to provide opportunities for promising prospects, like the one Houston picks in third, but also to recognize the value of hard-hitting veterans who have already established themselves in the league.

An alternative could have been to sit out Wood next season, in order to maintain his trade value while chasing a solid offer. This method did not work with John Wall, but that was due to his hefty $40 million annual contract.

Final Thoughts

There is no problem trading Christian Wood, but the current valuation of this trade is unsatisfactory.

It might have been wiser to extend Wood’s trade, with the intention of trading him for at least one key player in the rotation. Years later, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still derided for trading James Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two future first-round picks (Steven Adams and Mitch McGary) and a future second-round pick (Alex Abrins).

Overall, time will tell if Wood’s move to the Mavericks is a good move. For now, Dallas wins this trade.

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