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Grading the Mavs-Rockets Christian Wood trade that gets Luka Doncic some major help

Christian Wood trade Rockets Mavs Boban Marjanovic

It didn’t take long for the Dallas Mavericks to make their major offseason move after bowing out just short of the NBA Finals. They didn’t look far and wide for a trade partner either, consummating a deal with their in-state rival Houston Rockets for big man Christian Wood.

In exchange for shipping Christian Wood to Dallas, the Houston Rockets received a foursome of veterans in Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown, and Marquise Chriss to match salary and the 26th pick in the coming NBA draft as the most significant asset in return.

As with every trade, some teams have the potential to get the better end of the deal than their trade partner. While trades are ultimately judged by the overall impact they make during the season, or even its ripple effects in the seasons to follow, their impact during the NBA snapshot during the moment the trade was made oftentimes declares a winner and a loser.

Here are the draft grades for the Mavs-Rockets Christian Wood trade:

Mavs-Rockets Christian Wood trade grades

Dallas Mavericks Grade: A-

Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Christian Wood

The Dallas Mavericks were the cinderella team this postseason, getting further than anyone else expected them to. But as with most cinderella teams during March Madness, the magic ran out when the team’s shortcomings eventually became too real to overcome.

For the Mavs, one huge deficiency they had was a lack of a serious interior presence. Among the teams that made the second round in the playoffs, they ranked dead last in rebounding, blocked shots and points in the paint. They were also the worst at preventing opponents’ second chance points and were only surpassed by the Philadelphia 76ers, who had an injured Joel Embiid, at preventing paint points.

To say they needed Christian Wood and what he brings to the table would be a massive understatement.

At just 26 years old, Wood’s rebounds per game has increased throughout every season of his career. He averaged 10.1 rebounds for the Rockets last season. For comparison’s sake, nobody on the Mavs hit double-figures last season, with Luka Doncic leading the way with his 9.1 per game total. None of Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, or even former star big man Kristaps Porzingis have ever hit that plateau.

He also provides some serious rim-protection for a Mavs frontline that yielded several big games to Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton. Wood may not be a true defensive stalwart in the vein of Rudy Gobert, but his shot-blocking ability and length at least gives Dallas a more respectable option compared to what they previously had against the Joel Embiids, Anthony Davises, and Giannis Antetokounmpos of the world.

The best part is that the Mavs didn’t give away much to acquire him. The veterans they moved were largely just salary filler, Boban breakup aside. Dallas could potentially get all the benefits they wanted from Kristaps Porzingis, without the injuries and locker room tension, at a fraction of the cost. It’s the perfect low-risk, high-reward move that the Mavs needed to make to help Luka Doncic.

Houston Rockets Grade: B

Alperen Sengun, Christian Wood, Jalen Green, Rockets

Did Houston get a dream haul for Christian Wood? Not really. But given that Wood was on the final year of his contract, the Rockets were holding on to a deteriorating asset that could have potentially walked for nothing if not shipped away.

The most significant asset they get back was obviously the first-round pick. For a team that’s in full-on rebuild mode, draft capital is always welcome. Getting a young player with potential or maybe a higher pick would have been ideal, but realistically Christian Wood just doesn’t have the name value around the league to warrant such a return just yet, which worked in the Mavs’ favor.

One significant aspect of the trade was that the Rockets didn’t get any long-term salary in return. The four veterans coming to Houston are all expiring at season’s end and can easily be waived if need be to free up a roster spot. A cost-controlled rookie and additional salary cap flexibility isn’t a bad return package for Christian Wood.

Sure, the Rockets could have waited a bit longer and potentially showcased him this season. Maybe if they held on to Wood til the trade deadline, teams looking for a jolt could pony up something better. But in sending him away this early, that opens the door for incoming sophomore big Alperen Sengun to start at center and enter training camp with that distinction, potentially fast-tracking his development this season.

Given the circumstances, it’s hard to imagine the Rockets doing much better than what they got. Completely shifting the focus towards a rebuild could arguably the biggest gain from the trade in the short term.