Lakers add a big man to their bench, agreeing to deal with Christian Wood

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Dallas Mavericks forward Christian Wood (35) gestures to the crowd.
Dallas Mavericks forward Christian Wood gestures after scoring against the Lakers on Dec. 25. Wood has agreed to a deal with the Lakers. (Emil T. Lippe / Associated Press)

The Lakers have agreed to a deal with Christian Wood, putting a bit of an exclamation point at the end of their offseason roster shaping by adding the talented big man.

Wood will sign for the veteran’s minimum on a two-year deal with a player option in the second season, according to a person familiar with the situation. If things go according to plan, though, he won’t be exercising it. Wood’s ability to stretch the floor on the offensive end — he averaged 16.6 points on 37.6% shooting from three last season in Dallas — is among the best in the league for players at his position.

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He’s 6-foot-10 and will turn just 28 at the end of the month, giving the team another player in his prime in free agency to go with signings Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince. The Lakers, in addition to keeping Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura, also added former lottery picks Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish on low-risk free-agency deals.

The team has 14 players under contract with three others on two-way deals.

Wood has the most complete offensive resume of any of the Lakers’ newcomers. Over the past four seasons, he’s averaged just under 17 points to go with 8.2 rebounds and 1.0 block. He’s done that, though, on three different teams.

Wood’s issues — consistency on the defensive end at the top of the list — have pushed him all around the league in his short career. He has played for seven different franchises — not counting a season spent in the G-League — with only one, Houston, keeping him for multiple seasons.

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The Lakers, though, could be getting the right player at the right time. With a soft free-agent market that didn’t presumably produce any significant offers, Wood joins a team ready to win with a clear need for a scoring big man off the bench. Role acceptance, which was an issue that helped contribute to that soft market, should be at an all-time high with LeBron James and title hopes in play (while Wood is on a bit of a make-it-or-break-it deal).

He should get ample opportunity to showcase his strengths. While he’ll initially be a bench player for the Lakers, Anthony Davis’ injury issues and James’ age should allow for plenty of nights where the Lakers could use a bucket-getter.

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The Lakers targeted Wood as soon as it became clear he’d potentially be available at the league minimum, with both Davis and coach Darvin Ham having worked with him at previous stops.

Still, the questions are real. Wood was unsigned into the first week of September, with the Lakers becoming the latest team trying to put him in the right situation.

The risk, at the league minimum salary, is low. The payoff, though, is potentially huge.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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