The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the most active teams in free agency this summer, handling most of their work early. However, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka left the 14th roster spot open with the intention of signing another big man.
When Jaxson Hayes was signed on Day 2 of free agency, he was the only center behind Anthony Davis for weeks on end. This left fans wondering who the front office was targeting, but it seemed that the focus was on Christian Wood all along.
After months of waiting, the Lakers recently signed Wood on a two-year, veteran minimum contract with a player option for the second season. It was a long process, but head coach Darvin Ham played a role in Wood signing with L.A. as the two have a history together during their time in Milwaukee. In fact, Wood revealed to Chris McGee on Spectrum SportsNet that Ham called him often during the free agency process:
“[Ham] called me every day in free agency. I can say that now, believe it or not. We have a good relationship and I think that was a really big thing for me, just having that communication with a coach where you can just talk personable, and he’s a player’s coach as well. So just having that on my side is great and him believing in me and trusting in what I can do with my abilities is great.”
For a guy of Wood’s caliber and what he can bring to a team’s offense, it was surprising to see his market materialize to only a veteran minimum this last in the offseason. But, there have been concerns with his defense and his character in terms of motor and being unable to find a ‘home’ yet in his career.
The Dallas Mavericks sacrificed the No. 26 pick in the 2022 draft to acquire the center and it did not pan out as they hoped. Wood only spent 13 games with the Bucks in 2018-19, but seems that forming a relationship with Ham as an assistant there helped in the long run.
With the Lakers having a deep roster, Ham has a lot of different lineup options and it’ll be interesting to see how he utilizes Wood. Now on his eighth team, the hope is to rehab his value and cash in on a bigger contract, which the Lakers have been successful at the past few seasons.
Why Wood took so long to sign with L.A.
After doing most of their damage on Day 1 of free agency, the Lakers took their time evaluating options for the 14th roster spot. However, Wood was waiting on the potential trades of James Harden and Damian Lillard to see if a bigger role materialized, which is why he didn’t sign with the Lakers until recently.
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