Posted on: July 24, 2023, 10:08h.
Last updated on: July 24, 2023, 10:08h.
The Los Angeles Lakers were on the verge of signing former UNLV power forward Christian Wood, but the Chicago Bulls have now entered the conversation and can offer the free agent a higher salary.
Wood, a 6-foot-10 big man, was not selected in the NBA draft after playing for UNLV. Since joining the league in 2015, he has played for seven different teams.
Wood had brief stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks, and New Orleans Hornets before establishing himself as a valuable player with the Detroit Pistons in the 2019-20 season.
Prior to the 2020-21 season, Wood signed a contract with the Houston Rockets where he emerged as a potential All-Star, consistently posting double-double numbers. In his two seasons with the Rockets, Wood averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
Last season, Wood played as the sixth man for the Dallas Mavericks after being traded by the Rockets. Off the bench, he averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
If Wood signs with the Lakers, he would have the opportunity to compete for a championship and play alongside superstar LeBron James. However, this would require Wood to accept a significant pay cut. On the other hand, the Bulls can offer him more money, although their chances of winning the NBA championship next season are slim.
Lakers Can Only Offer Wood Vet Minimum Contract
Last season, the Lakers had two different phases. They traded point guard Russell Westbrook before the deadline, which had been a major distraction throughout the season. Eventually, the role players around James and Anthony Davis found their rhythm and shooting guard Austin Reaves became a fan favorite.
Initially, it appeared that the Lakers would miss the playoffs, especially after James suffered a foot injury. However, they made a late-season comeback and secured a spot in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament with a 43-39 record.
In the Play-In Tournament, the Lakers earned the #7 seed and defeated the #2 Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. They continued their underdog run by upsetting the #6 Golden State Warriors in the second round. However, they were swept by the #1 Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. Overall, it was an impressive postseason performance for the #7 seed Lakers.
Adding a player like Wood to their front line would strengthen the Lakers’ roster and provide support for the injury-prone Davis in the physical aspects of the game.
The Lakers came close to signing Wood a few weeks ago, but the Bulls now have an advantage and can outbid the Lakers. The Lakers can only afford to offer Wood the veteran minimum salary of $2.7 million for the upcoming season.
Bulls Can Offer Wood a Higher Salary
Last season, the Bulls finished with a 40-42 record and failed to secure a playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. They have two high-scoring superstars in shooting guard Zach LaVine and small forward DeMar DeRozan, but the challenge lies in managing their playing time effectively.
Despite trade rumors surrounding LaVine and DeRozan, the Bulls kept their top two scorers. Center Nikola Vucevic, another subject of trade rumors, signed a contract extension worth $60 million this offseason.
Wood would be a great addition to the Bulls, who could benefit from his rebounding skills. He would strengthen their front line defense and complement Vucevic’s playing style.
Point guard Lonzo Ball’s future with the Bulls is uncertain due to his struggles with knee injuries. There is a possibility that his career might be over and he may not play in the NBA again.
The Bulls were granted a special injury exemption and salary cap adjustment of $10.23 million by the NBA. This gives them the advantage to offer Wood a significantly higher salary than the Lakers can.
The Bulls are considered a long shot to win the 2023-24 NBA championship with +17000 odds, making them the fourth-lowest team on DraftKings’ futures board. They are at +6000 odds to win the Eastern Conference title.
The Milwaukee Bucks have won the Central Division for the past five seasons and are the favorites to secure a six-peat this upcoming season with -290 odds. The Bulls have +2900 odds to win their division for the first time since 2012.
Futures Market Before Wood Heads to Hollywood
The Lakers are consistently a popular pick to win the NBA championship, regardless of their actual chances. Lakers fans, especially those in Southern California, are known for placing significant futures bets in Las Vegas, which tends to skew the futures market.
Despite rumors of potential retirement, LeBron James is fully committed to the upcoming season and has no plans of quitting anytime soon. If he is serious about retiring, this might be his last opportunity to win a title with the Lakers.
James has expressed his desire to play for the same team that drafts his oldest son, Bronny, who will be playing for USC next season.
According to DraftKings, the Lakers have +1200 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. They are the sixth-highest team on the futures board and have +750 odds to win the Western Conference.
With the Bradley Beal trade, the Phoenix Suns are the betting favorites to win the competitive Pacific Division with +160 odds. They are followed by the Golden State Warriors (+280), Lakers (+350), Los Angeles Clippers (+500), and Sacramento Kings (+1000). The futures of the Clippers could be impacted if the Philadelphia 76ers fulfill James Harden’s trade request.