With Christian Wood Trade, Mavs scrap the draft to meet huge demand before the offseason even begins

With Christian Wood Trade, Mavs scrap the draft to meet huge demand before the offseason even begins

The Mavericks have made their 2022 draft night decision — more than a week before the June 23 event.

Dallas will trade its first-round pick (No. 26 overall) and reserve Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown and Marquese Chriss for center Christian Wood with the Houston Rockets, a source confirmed to The Dallas Morning News Wednesday night.

The deal fulfills one of the Mavericks’ key goals this offseason – improving their frontcourt production and depth – and relieves the expiring contracts of several underused players.

Dallas and Houston can’t officially finalize the trade until draft night because the Mavericks owe the New York Knicks a protected top-10 pick in 2023 and the NBA bans teams from trading first-rounders in consecutive years.

But fans didn’t wait to praise the move from general manager Nico Harrison and the Mavericks.

The 26-year-old Wood started in 67 of 68 games for the Rockets last season and averaged 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds and a block per game while shooting 50% from the field and 39% from three.

The 6-10, 214-pound man is expected to earn $14.3 million for the 2022-23 season — the final year of the three-year, $41 million deal he signed ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Then the Mavericks’ former front-office regime had an interest in bringing on a player whose talent hadn’t always translated into consistency, playing for five teams — Philadelphia, Charlotte, Milwaukee, New Orleans — in his first four NBA years and Detroit – played.

But in the last two with Houston, Wood has averaged 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while improving his 3-point shooting percentage to a career-high 39% in 2021-22 in a career-best 68-game season .

That’s the kind of production the Mavericks wanted during their run to the Western Conference Finals.

Starting guard tandem Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson and 3-and-D wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock exceeded expectations during the franchise’s first multi-round playoff appearance since the 2011 championship, but central court contributions were lacking .

Dwight Powell remained a starter throughout — playing in all of the Mavericks’ 100 games during the season.

However, his playing time was cut short significantly in matchups against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors as the Mavericks turned to small ball lineups and looked for more 3-point shooting production.

That left coach Jason Kidd to manage power forward Maxi Kleber at center — when he wasn’t in trouble — or go ultra-small with Finney-Smith as the fives.

Harrison and Kidd also pointed to the team’s rebound struggles as reasons Dallas lost the conference finals in five games.

“If you look back on the series, we lost quite a few games on the boards,” Harrison said in his May 27 exit interview. “This is important. We need someone who can help us with the rebounds, a rim protector. I think we definitely need to find that out.”

Wood fits right in as a potential starter – with little disruption to rotation.

Marjanovic ($3.5 million), Burke ($3.3 million), Brown ($3 million) and Chriss ($2.2 million) are all entering their final year in business . They were the Mavericks’ four least-used players in the postseason. None logged more than 3.8 minutes per game — and often ended up with blowout results.

Coupled with the No. 26 overall pick’s rookie contract (expected to be about $1.9 million in 2022-23), the contract math matches Wood’s salary, and the Mavericks stepped up their biggest roster hole before the league’s offseason got serious begins.

In: Wood, who is eligible for a four-year, $77 million extension six months after the trade transfer, according to ESPN.

Out: Leaving assets to a rebuilding franchise that’s looking to give its young front-court prospects more playing time anyway.

The only concern?

Marjanovic and Doncic had formed a particularly close friendship during their three overlapping seasons in Dallas.

They bonded over their Balkan roots, Serbian language, and goofy personalities.

Won’t the franchise superstar be upset when he sees his good pal leaving?

Harrison made it clear that he would consult and update Doncic on any roster movements.

“We’re going to have a million things on the board and we’re going to be bouncing ideas around,” Harrison said during his exit interview. “You look at Luka, as great as he is, he has a different perspective than me, maybe and maybe [assistant general manager Michael Finley] would and maybe even JKidd would, so let’s assume that.

“And then maybe we have a different point of view than he does, and we want him to understand that too. I think it’s a one way street. I think you’re crazy trying to build a squad without including your best player. That does not make sense.”

Barring another trade, Dallas won’t add a player by draft for a second straight year since Harrison and co. traded their 2022 second-round player in the Kristaps Porzingis-Spencer Dinwiddie-Davis Bertans deal to Washington last February.

But the Mavericks will not pat during the free hand.

Harrison has highlighted the signing of Brunson — the Mavericks’ only free agent on the 15-man roster this offseason — as the team’s top priority.

They also have a $10.9 million trade exemption (which expires June 29 from last year’s Josh Richardson deal) and a mid-level luxury taxpayer exemption.

Luxury, indeed, because Wood’s arrival will no longer offset her greatest need.

Twitter: @CallieCaplan

Also read: What to expect when Mavs’ Luka Doncic reports on Slovenia’s World Cup qualifying training session

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