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The most significant addition to the Dallas Mavericks’ roster during the offseason was forward Christian Wood. Dallas traded for the six-year veteran, sending a host of deep bench players and a first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Wood.
Despite spending a lot of capital to acquire him, many viewed the Mavericks as the winner of the trade. Despite that, Wood’s role with Dallas won’t be a starting one, at least not at first. He will start the season as a reserve.
“Right now, and I said it in the summer that we’ll bring him off the bench,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said of Wood during his media interview. “We’re starting JaVale [McGee] and Spencer [Dinwiddie]. That’s the way we’ll start as we go forward.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Kidd is strapping Wood to the bench permanently. Kidd said he could see some starts this season based on matchups and certain lineups that the team is exploring.
Even though Kidd was reiterating a point he made to the media, it appeared that he hadn’t discussed his lineup decision with his players. The news caught Wood off guard.
“This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said during media day.
Wood started all but one of the 68 games he appeared in with the Rockets last season. Houston head coach Stephen Silas benched him for a start in early January as punishment for failing to participate in the team’s daily Covid-19 testing.
Over the past two seasons, Wood has started 108 games and averaged 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 blocks. He shot 50.7% overall and 34.8% from behind the three-point arc.
Wood doesn’t see his bench role becoming a distraction during the season. However, his role will factor into what he wants as he looks to land a new contract.
“I’m motivated either way, off the bench or starting,” Wood said. “It’s something I could figure out. [I’m] not really worried about who starts the game and more so concerned about who’s finishing the game.
“If people were asking, ‘How would he feel about coming off the bench,’ I’m not too worried. It’s something that will mostly happen in talks with extensions and talks with free agency. But during the season, it’s not going to get me off my pivot.”
Wood is in the final year of a three-year, $41 million contract. He will earn $14.3 million this season and becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023. Dallas will have the opportunity to sign him to an extension this season if it so chooses.
Even with the demotion to the bench, Wood is excited about being in Dallas and getting to play for a team that continues to find success year after year.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me, just finally being on a winning organization,” Wood said. “If you look at my past career, I’ve been on a lot of losing teams. So, I have a huge opportunity to prove myself and prove that I can do well on a winning team.”