Head coach Jason Kidd put a summer mystery to rest right off the bat at the Dallas Mavericks Media Day Monday when he addressed the upcoming role for Christian Wood. Though Kidd mentioned the possibility of the athletic big man starting in some spots, he made clear that he will be relied on as the team’s sixth man. “I don’t need him to be ‘The Microwave’, Kidd stated, “I just need him to be C. Wood.”
Acquired in a deal with the Houston Rockets, which sent the entire end of the bench and right’s to this summer’s first round pick, Wood has only played a starting role in his two seasons with the Rockets. His other four seasons, where he bounced around the league, he was almost exclusively a reserve. The 6’10 athletic weapon, who turns 27 on Tuesday, has career averages of 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 38-percent from three. His time in Houston, where he signed believing he’d be teaming up with James Harden, saw an uptick in production. Granted, there was little to play for and just as little organization. Wood will need to prove he can be just as productive on a team with winning aspirations.
It is a curious decision from the front office, bringing Wood off the bench. When he was acquired the assumption is he would slot into the center spot with the starting group. His ability to stretch the floor and be a lob threat is something the Mavericks desperately want next to Luka Doncic. The Mavericks front office, however, offered that role to free agent signing JaVale McGee.
Still, there is some logic to Wood being first off the bench. With Spencer Dinwiddie joining the starting lineup to fill the absence made my Jalen Brunson’s departure, Kidd will be searching for scoring ability to pair with Tim Hardaway Jr. And given Doncic’s substitution and rest patterns, he and Wood will have plenty of time on the floor together. McGee should provide some rebounding, and maybe even a little rim protection in help defense every once in a while.
Wood’s Media Day appearance gave him a chance to talk about coming off the bench. His response?
“This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said with a smile, according to reporters.
Many reporters live at Media Day interpreted Wood’s response as a joke, before Wood talked about wanting to prove himself on a winning team. The Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan said Wood did acknowledge that whether or not he’s starting will play a factor into contract negotiations, as Wood will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Plenty to learn, both today and in the coming weeks as the Mavericks begin training camp. Their first preseason game is just around the corner, when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday October 5. Stay tuned for more updates from Media Day.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to add Wood’s media day comments.