With Christian Wood trade, Mavs drop out of draft, fill major need before offseason even begins

With Christian Wood trade, Mavs drop out of draft, fill major need before offseason even begins
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The Mavericks have made their decision for the 2022 draft — more than a week before the June 23 event.

Dallas will trade its first-round pick (No. 26 overall) and book Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown and Marquese Chriss to the Houston Rockets for center Christian Wood, a source confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday night.

The deal addresses one of the Mavericks’ main goals this offseason — to improve their frontline production and depth — and relieves the expiring contract of several underused players.

Dallas and Houston can’t officially complete the trade until draft night because the Mavericks owe the New York Knicks a top-10 protected pick in 2023, and the NBA prohibits teams from trading early rounds in the first few rounds. consecutive years.

But fans didn’t wait to praise general manager Nico Harrison and the Mavericks movement.

Wood, 26, started 67 of 68 games for the Rockets last season and averaged 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and one block per game while shooting 50% from the field and 39% on three .

The 6-foot-10, 214-pound big man is set to earn $14.3 million for the 2022-23 season – the final year of the three-year, $41 million deal he signed ahead of the 2020-21 season. .

Then the Mavericks’ old front-office regime had an interest in acquiring a player whose talent hadn’t always translated into consistency while playing for five teams – Philadelphia, Charlotte, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Detroit – in his first four NBA years.

But in the last two with Houston, Wood averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while improving his 3-point shooting percentage to a career-high 39% in 2021-22 during a career-best 68-game season.

It’s the kind of production the Mavericks wanted on their way to the Western Conference Finals.

Starting guard tandem Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson and 3-and-D wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock exceeded expectations in the franchise’s first playoff appearance since the 2011 Championship, but the contributions from the central square were missing.

Dwight Powell remained a starter throughout – and played in all 100 games for the Mavericks during the season.

But his playing time dropped dramatically in matchups against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors when the Mavericks turned to small-ball lineups and sought more 3-point shot production.

That left coach Jason Kidd leading power forward Maxi Kleber down the middle – when he wasn’t at fault – or going ultra-small with Finney-Smith as five.

Harrison and Kidd also pointed to the team’s rebounding difficulties as reasons Dallas lost the Conference Finals in five games.

“If you look back at the series, we lost a few games on the boards,” Harrison said in his May 27 exit interview. “It’s important. We have to find someone who can help us on the rebounds, be a rim protector. I think we have to understand that, of course.

Wood fits in immediately as a potential starter – with little disruption to the rotation.

Marjanovic ($3.5 million), Burke ($3.3 million), Brown ($3 million) and Chriss ($2.2 million) are all entering the final year of their contracts. They ranked among the Mavericks’ four least-used players in the playoffs. None have logged more than 3.8 minutes per game – and often at the end of explosive results.

Coupled with Pick No. 26’s rookie ladder contract (expected to be around $1.9 million in 2022-23), the contract calculations match Wood’s salary, and the Mavericks have bolstered their largest hole in the roster before the start of the league’s offseason.

In: Wood, who will be eligible for a four-year, $77 million extension six months after the trade is passed, according to ESPN.

Out: Expiring assets for a rebuilding franchise that wants to give its young front-line prospects more playing time anyway.

The only concern?

Marjanovic and Doncic had forged a particularly close friendship during their three overlapping seasons in Dallas.

They bonded over their Balkan roots, Serbian language and goofy personalities.

Won’t the franchise superstar be upset to see his good pal go?

Harrison made it clear he would consult and update Doncic on all movements in the list.

“We’re going to have a million things on the board, and we’re going to throw ideas back and forth,” Harrison said during his exit interview. “You look at Luka, as great as he is, he has a different point of view than I would like maybe and maybe [assistant general manager Michael Finley] would and maybe even JKidd would, so we want to embrace it.

“And then we might have a different point of view than he has, and we want him to understand that as well. I think it’s a two-way street. I think you’re crazy trying to build a roster and not include your best player. It doesn’t make sense.

Barring another trade, Dallas won’t add a player by draft for the second straight year as Harrison and Co. traded their 2022 second-rounder to Washington as part of the Kristaps Porzingis-Spencer Dinwiddie- Davis Bertans last February.

But the Mavericks will not remain indifferent during free agency.

Harrison highlighted Brunson’s re-signing – the Mavericks only free agent on the 15-man roster this offseason – as the team’s No. 1 priority.

They will also have a $10.9 million business exception (which expires June 29 from last year’s Josh Richardson deal) and a mid-tier exception for luxury ratepayers available.

Luxury, indeed, as Wood’s arrival will render their greatest position of need suppressed.

Twitter: @CallieCaplan

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Find more Mavericks coverage from the Dallas Morning News here.

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