This year’s free agency period is over a week old, and just like usual, the pool is naturally dried up. As such, the attention has quieted down, especially with Summer League underway, which features lottery picks, and thus rightfully capturing all the eyeballs. 

Still, there’s no denying that there’s at least a couple of players who are on the fans’ radar. Christian Wood, most recently from the Dallas Mavericks, is perhaps the most notable from the bunch.

However, the 27-year-old is the latest case of a clearly talented player who is unable to put it together on the floor, leaving his play underwhelming for the most part. 

Keep in mind that he was considered as the prized free agent of 2020 – a big man with wide offensive and defensive capabilities – and that the winner of the sweepstakes, the Houston Rockets, were lucky to snag him. Then, last off-season, after just two years in Texas, the Rockets suddenly traded him to the Mavericks for spare parts.

Fast forward to just a season later, he’s back on the same situation. His team will let him go prematurely for the second time in two years.

What make this extra tough is he was supposed to come out of the 2022-23 season as yet another big fish that will generate several offers with good money, somewhere around $20 million per year. That has turned into a pipe dream.

For now, all he has are rumors of his recent employer being disappointed, and other teams being possibly “interested,” none of which will be able to give the dough he’s looking for. 

It’s also worth noting that that the Mavs moved up in the 2023 NBA draft to select University of Duke center Dereck Lively II – it’s something since they are known to trade first-round picks.

While there’s still no doubt that Wood will soon find a home, he’s transformed into a bargain free agent who’s deemed to be a gamble more than anything. He’s back to trying to prove himself again.

As the team’s sixth man, Wood appeared in 67 games (17 as a starter) for the Mavs this past season. He averaged 16.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game, shooting 51.5% from the floor, including a respectable 37.6% from downtown on 4.2 attempts. Further, he also showcased a nice pick-and-roll tandem with Luka Doncic.

Such are solid numbers on paper as he was even ranked high in the Sixth Man of the Year race at some point. Overall, though, he also proved to be a liability on defense, with many criticizing the consistency of his effort in the paint – if there ever was. It could be among the reasons why they faltered in the second half of the season, eventually missing the playoffs.

Where will he end up?

All of the rumoured teams mentioned above makes sense, so they ought to take a look as Wood can be someone who can step in and provide help. We’re talking about a big who can run, has range, and protect the paint – albeit inconsistently on that last one.

As always, it will come down to money. Wood will very well need to take less than what he expected. We’ll see how well he can take on that challenge for the third time in his career. He already did it as an undrafted rookie and as a bench warmer.