Christian Wood, the most unheralded high-quality unrestricted free agent on the NBA market, has agreed to a three-year, $41 million contract with the Houston Rockets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wood is reportedly expected to leave Detroit for Houston in a sign-and-trade deal.
The 25-year-old big man averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game for the Detroit Pistons this past season. Following the trade of All-Star center Andre Drummond at the February deadline, Wood’s averages jumped to 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and two assists in 34.2 minutes a night as a starter.
The concern is that those numbers came on a dreadful team that finished 1-11 in that span. Wood’s market was set on a single productive season. Undrafted in 2015, he bounced around from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans over a three-season run sandwiched around two years in the G-League. Detroit claimed him off waivers when New Orleans cut him in July 2019.
The 6-foot-10 Wood displayed a broad range of skills in his first serious NBA opportunity. He shot 77% at the rim, 43.8% from mid-range and 38.6% on 2.3 three-point attempts per game. The Pistons were 4.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Wood on the floor, and his opponents shot 6.4% worse than their season averages on five attempts per game inside of six feet.
Add it all up, and Wood has a chance to be a game-changing foundational piece moving forward.
In his four-year NBA career, Wood previously posted career earnings of $4.2 million. This season marked the end of the two-year, $3.1 million minimum contract he originally signed with the Bucks in 2018. That made him one of the NBA’s best bargains in 2019-20. Time will tell if he can meet the value of this contract.
The Pistons were big movers on the first night of free agency, reportedly signing center Mason Plumlee and wings Josh Jackson and Jerami Grant. Detroit also was a player on draft night, when they traded Luke Kennard and took Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey with a trio of top-20 picks in the first round.
The Rockets are in disarray. Longtime general manager Daryl Morey left to take a job with the Philadelphia 76ers. They traded starting forward Robert Covington for future draft assets, and superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook have both reportedly asked out of Houston. Wood is either a selling point to the two former MVPs that the team is still intent on competing for a title, or a rebuilding block should they leave.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports: