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    What’s the Lakers’ Ceiling in a Sign- and-Trade Deal for Christian Wood?

    With Anthony Davis committing to re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, Christian Wood becomes the preeminent free agent big man this offseason, which means there’s a good chance there will be a bidding war to land him.

    While some free agent pundits established Wood’s market value around $10 million per year, other analysts have suggested he could command as much as $15 to $17 million per year based on his breakout year with the Pistons. Right now, there are six NBA teams who currently have the cap space to make an offer that high for Christian Wood: the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns.

    But other NBA teams could also make roster moves to create the cap space to add their names to the list and teams like the Lakers without cap space could expand the competition by proposing sign-and-trade offers for Wood. If the Lakers are serious about trading for Wood, the two big questions are who will be their competitors for him and what should be their ceiling in terms of dollars and assets offered when it comes to consummating a deal?


    One thing that still haunts me is how Wood has the same unique skill set to play offense and defense at all three levels like Davis, which also makes him exactly the type of player teams need to match AD at both ends of the court. Davis’ ascension as a unicorn and the best big man in the game today has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the NBA. League GM’s now know the road to the NBA championship now runs through the Lakers and Anthony Davis.

    We know the Celtics and Warriors have expressed interest in trading for the Pacers Myles Turner, whose another modern center who can protect the rim and defend in space on the perimeter. Perfect defender for Anthony Davis. Christian Wood falls into the same category and the Lakers should pursue him both to create a juggernaut team and prevent competitors from adding a player to counter the ultimate weapon they have in Anthony Davis.

    Players like Christian Wood and Myles Turner are going to ignite an arms race between the elite teams looking for an answer for Anthony Davis and a way to derail what they fear will be another Lakers’ championship dynasty. The Lakers’ likely competition for Christian Wood is not going to come from the Hawks, Nicks, Pistons, and Suns; it’s going to come from teams looking for ways to pass the Lakers: the Heat, Clippers, Warriors, Celtics, and Bucks.


    Unfortunately, that levels the playing field to acquire Wood more than if it were just a contest betweens teams offering only the MLE or money instead of an opportunity to win but the Lakers still have one significant advantage. They are the NBA Champions and Christian would be joining the team with the best two players in the world and a better opportunity to win a ring. The only question is how much would the Lakers be willing to pay to sign him?

    Besides first year salary, the Lakers need to offer Wood a three-year deal so they will have his Bird rights and be able to go over the cap to keep him once the contract expires, which means compromising their 2021 plans. Since the Lakers will still want to have the option to pursue a third superstar after next season, they need to make sure Wood and his contract are easily tradable if necessary to create cap space to sign that superstar in 2021.

    The maximum contract the Lakers should offer Christian Wood is a three-year $45 million deal starting at $15 million per year. Combined with a chance to win a championship, that should be an offer he just can’t refuse. Other teams could offer a few million more but the chance to join the champs and play with LeBron and AD in L.A. should be irresistible for a 25-year old who played for 4 teams in 5 years with a top salary of $1.6 million.


    Assuming the Lakers can come to an agreement with Christian Wood on a contract, all that remains is working out an acceptable sign-and-trade deal the Detroit Pistons will accept as equitable compensation for trading him. The obvious centerpiece to the sign-and-trade deal is Lakers forward and Flint, Michigan native Kyle Kuzma, about whom the Lakers and Pistons had already had trade discussions before the trade deadline last winter.

    The Pistons are in a difficult position. They would love to re-sign Wood and have the cap space to do it but he has announced that he’s going to leave via Instagram and they don’t want to lose him in free agency for nothing. While they Pistons have over $30 million in cap space, Detroit is not a top destination for free agents, which makes using their cap space to take on salary in a sign-and-trade a resourceful strategy to acquire quality players.

    With Wood having agreed to a contract with the Lakers eliminating other potential trade partners, the Pistons would still have leverage knowing the Lakers don’t have cap space and need Detroit to agree to a sign-and-trade. But an offer from the Lakers of Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, and their 2020 first round pick should give the Pistons more than fair compensation for agreeing to sign-and-trade Christian Wood.


    The drawback for the Lakers adding a player via a sign-and-trade deal is it would limit their total payroll costs for the 2021 season to a hard cap of $138.9 million, meaning the Lakers could not exceed that for any reason. Right now, the Lakers have committed $119.6 million to 11 players in 2021. Bradley and McGee are not expected to exercise their player options but Davis, Caldwell-Pope, and Rondo are expected to opt out looking for raises.

    Assuming the Lakers re-sign AD to a 1+1 max contract for $32.7 million and give both KCP and Rondo raises to $12 and $6 million using their Bird and Early Bird rights, they would then have $130.3 million committed for 2021. That would leave they with just $8.6 million left to add 4 more players to their roster, making it impossible to use the full $9.6 million MLE and challenging to use the $3.6 million BAE or even sign their first round pick.

    But a sign-and-trade of Kuzma, Green, McGee, and Cook’s $26.1 million for Wood’s $15 million would free up $11.1 million in cap space and give the Lakers $119.2 million in salaries for 2021, $19.7 million under the hard cap. That would enable the Lakers to pursue free agents like Dragic, Gallinari, Harkness, and Baynes with their MLE, re-sign Morris or Howard with their BAE, and add other minimum salary players like Cousins or Dudley.


    A sign-and-trade between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers of Christian Wood for Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, and the 28th pick in the 2020 NBA draft should be a win-win for both teams. The Lakers get a player who could transform their team and clear cap space to give raises to AD, KCP, and Rondo and use their MLE and BAE to further upgrade their roster despite being limited by the $138.9 million hard cap.

    Detroit avoids losing a player who could have left in free agency and, instead of nothing, receives four championship-tested players they could not have attracted in free agency plus a first round draft pick from a sign-and-trade. The Pistons get the home town star they wanted in Kuzma, two quality defenders who are great roster fits in Green and McGee, a deadeye shooter whose contract is only partially guaranteed in Cook, and a first round pick.

    While deals proposed by bloggers never happen, the approach outlined is a perfect blueprint for how the Lakers can take advantage of a trade or sign-and-trade to acquire a high impact player while increasing their cap space. The Lakers will need to figure out how to navigate a hard cap to reward key contributors like KCP and Rondo, use their full non-taxpayer MLE or BAE to upgrade the roster, or go after an elite prospect via a sign-and-trade.

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    • I had to revisit my original article on Christian Wood as Eric Pincus pointed out to me that some of my assumptions contradicted the hard cap the Lakers would be subject to if they (1) used the full MLE, (2) used the BAE, or (3) did a sign-and-trade. The hard cap is $139M and does limit what we can give players with Bird, Early Bird, or other rights. Hard means you can’t exceed it even if you have less than 15 players.

      At any rate, one thing that came out of this is the Lakers need more cap space, which is why they applied to get rid of Deng’s $5M. The best way to get more cap space is to trade away contracts to a team like the Pistons who are way under the cap. It’s actually a process many of those teams use to get players since they’re not a top free agent destination. So take a look at the deal I’ve proposed. It’s a good blueprint for the kind of deal the Lakers could be looking to pull off this offseason.

    • From the article:

      “The maximum contract the Lakers should offer Christian Wood is a three-year $45 million deal starting at $15 million per year. Combined with a chance to win a championship, that should be an offer he just can’t refuse.”

      “A sign-and-trade between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers of Christian Wood for Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, and the 28th pick in the 2020 NBA draft should be a win-win for both teams.”

      “The Lakers get a player who could transform their team and clear cap space to give raises to AD, KCP, and Rondo and use their MLE and BAE to further upgrade their roster despite being limited by the $138.9 million hard cap.”

      “Detroit avoids losing a player who could have left in free agency and, instead of nothing, receives four championship-tested players they could not have attracted in free agency plus a first round draft pick from a sign-and-trade.”

      • Aloha Tom, let’s see if the site will let me respond this time. Lol. I’m all in on wood for the MLE, but not for a trade. First the NBA history is littered with one year wonders. In this case less than one year. He has already played for 5 teams in 4 years. And as you mentioned he is still raw, in many ways. I also don’t know if he’s going to see the kind of offers you imagine because of this. We are in a win now situation and I don’t see us giving up important pieces of our championship team to gamble on one guy who may or may not pan out. I really don’t think we trade for him.

        • Aloha, Michael.

          I have no problem getting Christian for the MLE if we can but I suspect he will get bigger offers than that because he could be the type of player teams need to defend AD.

          The trade is also about more than just about getting Wood. It’s about creating cap space since using the full MLE or the BAE or a sign-and-trade all are going to hard cap us at $139M, which is going to mean we may not be able to match offers for KCP or Rondo or Morris even though we have their Bird and Early Bird rights and the BAE.

          It’s why we’re trying to get rid of Deng’s $5M. We need cap space and trading with a team like the Pistons who can take in more salary than they give out is the only way we can open up cap space. It’s also the only way they can get quality players since they’re not a free agent destination.

          That’s why the Wood trade or a similar trade is going to be key not only for keeping the core of the team together but having the ability to use the full MLE and BAE to upgrade the roster. You have to look beyond just the trade itself.

        • Great and very thoughtful comment, Michael. You said it best when you stated: “I’m all in on Wood for the MLE, but not for a trade. First the NBA history is littered with one year wonders. In this case less than one year. He has already played for 5 teams in 4 years.”

          I am not a big fan of premature trades, especially not after having just won a championship. I have always stated my preference for patience on this blog for a while now and I am still sticking to that virtue. Now, that doesn’t mean we should stand pat and watch the rest of the league reload. However, Temptation can lead to lead to a buyer’s remorse. Didn’t we just had a similar situation with Luol deng and Timofey Mozgov recently? So you spent a pile of money or an important piece of your championship puzzle on a player you thought you wanted – only to realize later you could have gone without him? Buyer’s remorse is the worst enemy of any GM and we have seen that happen many times over the years.

          I would prefer to trade for a proven player that can get us a home run.

    • It’s Bismack all over again.

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    Talen Horton-Tucker Wants Next

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    Dodgers wanted to be like the Lakers but end up playing like the Clippers!

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    Pat Riley shows true colors: just a sore loser with a lack of class!

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    • Lost a lot of respect for Pat Riley with those comments.

      • What Pat Riley did not get was that every team the Lakers played this post season has to have a perfect game in order to even squeeze out a single win against them. Miami’s two wins were the results of playing perfect with no margin of error. In fact, the Lakers were within reach of winning those two games they lost. They were very forunate for not being swept. Bam and Dragic being healthy wouldn’t have changed the Lakers championship outcome. The Lakers were simply head and shoulder above every team out there by a country mile.

    • I’m probably being too rough on Pat because the Miami reporter was relentless but you can’t just bring up the ‘A’ word in that situation. A classless slip by a class guy who needs to apologize.

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    Full audio of Lakers GM Rob Pelinka on The Woj Pod

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    The Trade: Los Angeles Lakers acquire Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers for Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and the No. 28 pick in the 2020 draft.

    A healthy Victor Oladipo would solve the Los Angeles Lakers’ playmaking problems whenever LeBron James isn’t on the floor. Rajon Rondo’s postseason revitalization was a nice story, but the Lakers can’t expect that same level of performance going forward.

    Danny Green has no shortage of championship experience, but he hasn’t shot better than 34.2 percent from deep in the playoffs since 2015-16. The quickest guards are also now a half-step too quick for him. That’s not to say Green would be useless with the Indiana Paccers; he still shot 36.7 percent from distance during the 2019-20 season and profiles as a starter. Kyle Kuzma would give Indiana some youth and scoring touch on the wing, and though his defense didn’t make the leap hypothetical teammate T.J. Warren’s did last year, Kuzma has been much more capable on that end as he’s matured.

    If Oladipo can’t stay healthy or otherwise flops for the Lakers, this deal could hurt. But with James entering his age-36 season, the potential one-year upside Oladipo would bring would be worth the risk.

    Los Angeles Lakers: Rental for a Repeat

    The Trade: Los Angeles Lakers acquire Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers for Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma and the No. 28 pick in the 2020 draft.

    A healthy Victor Oladipo would solve the Los Angeles Lakers’ playmaking problems whenever LeBron James isn’t on the floor. Rajon Rondo’s postseason revitalization was a nice story, but the Lakers can’t expect that same level of performance going forward.

    Danny Green has no shortage of championship experience, but he hasn’t shot better than 34.2 percent from deep in the playoffs since 2015-16. The quickest guards are also now a half-step too quick for him. That’s not to say Green would be useless with the Indiana Paccers; he still shot 36.7 percent from distance during the 2019-20 season and profiles as a starter. Kyle Kuzma would give Indiana some youth and scoring touch on the wing, and though his defense didn’t make the leap hypothetical teammate T.J. Warren’s did last year, Kuzma has been much more capable on that end as he’s matured.

    If Oladipo can’t stay healthy or otherwise flops for the Lakers, this deal could hurt. But with James entering his age-36 season, the potential one-year upside Oladipo would bring would be worth the risk.

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    • Why would Oladipo leave? The Lakers would have his Bird rights via the trade and could sign him to a max deal no problem. In fact, trading for a guy in Victor’s situation is the only way the Lakers can end up with three superstars short of LeBron taking a huge cut in pay. That’s the home run in making an Oladipo trade.

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    Reminds me of Kawhi's corner three against the 76ers

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    • Justin Termine had a great monologue of how different everything in the NBA might have been had that shot not gone in and the 76ers won, met the Bucks for the East, and then the Warriors in the Finals. Kawhi’s legend would have been different. Brown might still be coaching 76ers and Nurse not the COY. Giannis might have won a ring instead of Kawhi. Just the bounce of the ball.

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    5 trade packages involving Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma

    5. TJ Warren
    4. Ricky Rubio and Cheick Diallo
    3. Larry Nance, Jr.
    2. Evan Fournier
    1. Chris Paul

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    • Not a big fan of any of these trades except possible the last one, which is a three-way between the Lakers, Thunder, and Knicks where Lakers get Chris Paul for Kuzma, Green, and #28. Not sure how that would be a valid trade. Lakers send out $18M and take back $41M. SMH.

      LAKERS GET
      CHRIS PAUL

      THUNDER GET
      KYLE KUZMA
      JULIUS RANDLE

      KNICKS GET
      DANNY GREEN
      TERRANCE FERGUSON
      PICK. 28

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    • Good video as always by Trevor Lane for LakersNation. Trevor interprets Pelinka’s comments as saying Lakers goals are to win the championship again and theo add young star next offseason to bridge transition with AD rather than going after an older star like CP3.

      Lakers could accelerate that if they could land Christian Wood. I’m now thinking there’s no way Wood is going to settle for the MLE. There is likely to be a lot of competition for him by the teams with cap space and teams looking to land him via a sign-and-trades. He’s what every team wants: an Anthony Davis clone who can shoot and play defense at all three levels. He’s going to be top free agent this offseason.

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    Desmond Bane's Pre Draft interview with the Lakers!

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    Lakers coaches think AD already has argument as best player in world

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    NBA Targeting Dec. 22 Start, 72-Game Schedule With Finals Over By Olympics

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    WHY LAKERS CAN LAND CHRISTIAN WOOD!

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    • An excellent and objective analysis of Christian Wood, who’s still raw defensively but has great potential and could be a monster on offense if he continues to shoot as well from deep as he did this year. Sample size is small but upside is enormous. Not many players can have push losing teams to positive stats when he’s on the floor and his advanced defensive stats confirm the eye test. Great video on Woods breakout potential.

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    LAKERS SHOULD PAIR WOOD WITH DAVIS!

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    • He’s not Anthony Davis but you can’t help but seeing the similarity when you watch how Christian Wood protects the rim against bigs and guards. Like AD, his length and speed allow him to not bite on head fakes and still block and challenge shots. He and AD would be a pair of pterodactyls challenging shots and protecting the rim for the Lakers.

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    NBA free-agent rankings: The 25 best players in 2020

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    Player leadership was key in winning the NBA Championship!

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