The Detroit Pistons may have a problem with Christian Wood’s contract

Detroit Pistons Christian Wood. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Christian Wood. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

After claiming Christian Wood off waivers over the summer, the Detroit Pistons may have a problem with his current contract.

On July 17th of last year, the Detroit Pistons claimed Christian Wood off waivers after he was released by the New Orleans Pelicans.

At the time, it was seen as a brilliant and cost efficient move that would bolster the Pistons backup center position behind Andre Drummond, which they desperately needed.

It wasn’t clear at the time whether or not Wood would even make the opening night roster, as he was given a non-guaranteed contract. He spent the preseason in a battle with NBA veteran Joe Johnson for the final roster spot.

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After several dominant performances, he was give that illustrious final spot. It would have been incredibly difficult to deny him, given how desperately Detroit needed depth at center.

Wood wound up spending a majority of the first month of the season on the bench, as Dwane Casey often deferred to Thon Maker to run with the second unit. This caused a lot of outrage among the fans, and eventually (not because of the fan’s pleading) Wood worked his way into the rotation.

While he’s still a raw product, and at times lacks consistency on defense, he was impressing everyone watching every single time he hit the floor. There was seemingly always something positive to say about his time on the court.

Now that Drummond has been traded to Cleveland, Wood has seen a substantial increase in minutes, and in turn, his production as well.

In the four games that Detroit has played since the Drummond trade, Wood has been averaging 20.0 points per game, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 53.7% shooting (42.1% from three-point range) all while playing 33.4 minutes per game.

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These are significant increases from his season averages, and he’s proven that he could be a long term option for the Pistons.

The issue begins with the fact that because he’s been playing so well recently, other teams have begun to take notice.

At the trade deadline it was reported that the Boston Celtics had made an offer for Wood that the Pistons declined. Though the offered package was never made public, it’s safe to assume that Detroit had a high price tag on him.

It was also rumored that the Houston Rockets had done their due diligence on him as well.

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Referencing back to an earlier point, Wood being claimed by Detroit was essential given how cost efficient it was. It allowed Detroit to stay under the luxury tax by a mere $223,000.

At the time, the Pistons not being able to sign him to a multi-year deal didn’t seem like it would pose any real issues down the line.

However, it also wasn’t anticipated that he would be forced into a larger role that gives him more exposure. With his skill set on full display with more regularity, not only are teams inquiring about him at the trade deadline but that’ll likely carry over into free agency.

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Wood will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and given the underwhelming class that will become available, teams won’t be too reluctant to reach out to him.

While it’s difficult to imagine him leaving Detroit, given the fact that he’s finally been given an opportunity to thrive, the door is wide open.

It’s important to note that the Pistons didn’t really have any options other than offering a non-guaranteed contract due to their financial constraints. So tying this potential conundrum to “they should have given him a longer deal” doesn’t quite work.

However, the potential is still there.

If he were to walk away, Detroit would once again find themselves looking for a center. Thon Maker can’t play 40 minutes every night.

The Pistons will likely have the intention of re-signing Wood, and they’ll have plenty of money to do so. There’s presumably no team in the league willing to pay him more than what Detroit would, however if he were to see a better fit for himself, he could very well go elsewhere.

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Because they have him on such a short contract, and he’s performed as well as he has, the Pistons need to prioritize keeping him on this team.