Photo by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
In a trade primarily about the incoming draft asset, the Rockets are reportedly moving Christian Wood to Dallas for the No. 26 pick in the 2022 first round. With only one season left on his contract, Houston was widely expected to consider Wood trades during the 2022 offseason, as opposed to taking the risk of losing him for no compensation in 2023.
The deal will not be finalized until after the draft next Thursday, so as it stands now, Dallas will be picking for Houston at that spot.
Though Wood led Houston in points and rebounds in 2021-22, his age (soon to be 27 years old) and contractual status aren’t in alignment with a young core consisting of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Alperen Sengun. All are on their rookie contracts and are 22 years old or younger.
Trading Wood to the Mavericks, where he will be paired with perennial MVP candidate Luka Doncic, presumably opens up the starting center spot for Sengun — who will be entering his second NBA season.
In two seasons with the Rockets, Wood averaged 19.1 points (50.7% FG, 38.4% on 3-pointers) and 9.9 rebounds in 31.4 minutes, though his defense was often called into question due to his slender frame.
To make the salary math work, since the Mavericks are over the NBA’s salary cap, the Rockets are reportedly taking in Marquise Chriss, Boban Marjanovic, Sterling Brown, and Trey Burke for salary matching purposes. Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets have not determined who (if any) from that group of role players will be kept. They don’t have to make an immediate decision, since the NBA allows expanded rosters of up to 20 players in the offseason.
All four newly acquired players have contracts expiring after the 2022-23 campaign at the latest (Burke has a player option this offseason), so the trade does not materially impact Houston’s salary cap situation. The Rockets were positioned to be above the salary cap in the 2022 offseason before the trade and with flexibility to create significant cap room in 2023, and that remains the case after this transaction.
The primary incoming asset for the Rockets is the draft pick at No. 26 overall from Dallas, which could be used to add another talented prospect — or it might help Houston to trade up a few spots from No. 17 in the first round, where they currently own Brooklyn’s pick.
Here’s a look at immediate reaction and takeaways.