The Rockets think they have a piece of the future puzzle in Alperen Sengun, the Turkish center selected a year ago. Then, with the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, the Rockets likely will select Paolo Banchero out of Duke, the 6’10” big man who is the most ready of the top picks to step in and play at an NBA level tomorrow.
Does that leave Christian Wood on the trade block?
Very possibly, especially with Wood on an expiring contract, reports Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
It’s obvious why teams have been intrigued with Wood in the past. He’s a unicorn of a big man. That interest hasn’t waned, even in the early weeks of the offseason, sources told The Athletic. Wood is talented enough to where the Rockets can’t let him walk without getting assets back if their tenure is headed for an ending.
“Unicorn” may overstate the case, but he is a versatile offensive player who averaged 17.9 points a game, shot 39% from 3, and pulled down 10 rebounds a game for the Rockets last season. He’s not a plus defender, but he does average a block a game. He’s athletic. There’s a place for him in the NBA, but not necessarily in Houston’s future.
If/when the Rockets trade Wood, they will be looking for players on the Jalen Green/Banchero (or whoever they pick) timeline. Iko lists some options (mostly combining Wood with the No. 17 pick to get more back) with teams that need centers, such as Charlotte and San Antonio. Expect other teams to get into the mix.
Wood said that the trade rumors do not impact him.
“I just continue to play my game,” Wood told me that month. “Continue to hoop. If anything, it’s motivation. I know all 30 teams are watching, regardless if I’m in a trade talk or not. Just motivation to keep going. It gives me a little extra step when I step on the floor.”
When the NBA Draft rolls around, expect Wood trade rumors to heat up — and it’s one of the more likely deals to get done.