Detroit Pistons big man Christian Wood is going to get a big payday this summer. It’s possible he’s being overlooked as a possible trade asset.
Christian Wood‘s future with the Detroit Pistons is anything but certain, and with the Pistons at the forefront of trade rumors he’s being overlooked.
Wood, 24, was undrafted, took a gap year in 2017-18 and is with his fifth team in four seasons. It’s all coming together for the young, athletic forward who is guaranteeing himself a payday when free agency rolls around this summer.
With Saturday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, who the Pistons are chasing for the East’s eighth playoff spot, the path to the playoff gets more difficult with the toughest schedule in March on the horizon. Detroit sits three games behind the Nets with 11 days before the NBA’s trade deadline.
Meanwhile, Wood is continuing to produce. He’s averaging 10 points, 5.2 rebounds a 0.9 blocks per game in 17.3 minutes per game — all career highs. He’s also shooting 38% from 3-point range and has a 22.6 Player Efficiency Rating.
Keith Smith, a Yahoo! Sports and RealGM contributor, suggested the idea that the Pistons should consider trading him, much to the dismay of their fans. Over his last three games, Wood is scoring 17.7 points per game on 16 of 24 (66.7%) and in two of the three games he got to the free-throw line at least nine times.
His increased activity with Blake Griffin out with an injury is attention-grabbing. His athleticism has provided entertainment with 70 dunks on the season. Wood has come a long way since playing under four minutes in the season opener and not playing against Atlanta. He’s been a mainstay in the rotation ever since.
His athletic, slender frame makes him versatile as he continues to improve defensively. His consistency as a 3-point shooter and shot-blocking ability will make him a coveted free agent, which Detroit News beat writer Rod Beard believes it will turn into a possible bidding war.
If that’s the case, does it make sense for the Pistons to engage? Detroit has $51 million in guaranteed money on the books for the 2020-21 season. That could grow to $68.6 million with Tony Snell opting into a player option and picking up Luke Kennard‘s team option.
If Andre Drummond were to opt-in to his $28.8 million player option, that number would balloon to $97.4 million. Though unlikely based off prior indications, at that point, the Pistons would struggle to afford Wood while needing to fill spots for Markieff Morris, a pair of point guards and, potentially, a backup center.
Whoever the Pistons select in the 2020 NBA Draft will likely fill one of those roles. Barring any other moves, it’s hard to see where the Pistons could save money to afford Wood. Though, if Detroit were to trade Drummond for expiring contracts, that makes it an easier burden.
The Pistons are looking for additional first round picks in a trade for Drummond or Derrick Rose, who is beginning to gain interest on the trade rumor mill. It’s possible that Wood could fetch a pick, especially from a contender, but his status as an unrestricted free agent and a rental could dissuade teams, as it has with Drummond.
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At what point do the Pistons agree to a deal? At what point do the Pistons turn suitors away and try to re-sign him?
Wood is happy in Detroit. He was elated when his contract became guaranteed for the rest of the season earlier this month. He said that Ed Stefanski told him the Pistons were “going to try and re-sign (him) for next year.”
The Pistons may benefit from believing in Wood and giving him his first shot in the NBA. It could lead to a discount in free agency but seems unlikely from someone who will want to lock-in his basketball future and will have money coming his way. Perhaps if they trade him, it wouldn’t rule him out of a return to Detroit.
The next few weeks will be interesting as the trade deadline comes and goes. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.