The Dallas Mavericks have come to life over the past few weeks, and Christian Wood is at the literal and figurative center of that rejuvenation. With Wood in the starting lineup, Dallas has now won seven games in a row. He’s averaging over 19 points per game during the streak, and more importantly, he and Luka Doncic are developing into the most dangerous pick-and-roll combination in the NBA as they rack up victories. Dallas has moved up to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference during the streak, and now, the team is attempting to figure out what to do with Wood moving forward.
Wood is eligible for a contract extension. According to Marc Stein, the Mavericks have engaged Wood on extension talks, but there are a few issues standing between the two sides and an agreement. The biggest is the NBA’s extension rules. Wood is only eligible for $77 million over four years because the amount a player is eligible for in an extension is based on his prior salary. Wood’s current deal, originally signed with the Houston Rockets in 2020, is well below market value.
The Mavericks would also seemingly prefer a shorter deal, with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reporting that their preference would be a two-year, $36 million pact. Given his play thus far this season, either deal could be perceived as cheap relative to what he could get as a free agent this summer, when no such restrictions will apply.
But Dallas already went through a version of this dilemma with Jalen Brunson a year ago. While the circumstances were slightly different because Dallas dragged its feet and didn’t offer an extension until after the trade deadline, they were ultimately unable to offer Brunson a fair deal last season. They wound up losing him for nothing in free agency to the Knicks. Dallas doesn’t appear too keen on letting that happen again with Wood. According to Stein, the Mavericks are expected to explore the trade market for Wood if no agreement is reached.
How seriously they would do so is unclear, especially given how vital Wood has proven to their roster. It’s also worth noting that Wood’s value was fairly limited when Dallas acquired him for just one late first-round pick last offseason. Wood’s talent has never been in question, but his attitude and defensive limitations have scared teams off in the past.
An extension, either now or in the offseason, would appear to be in everyone’s best interests. Dallas simply can’t afford to lose another talented player, and Wood is playing the best basketball of his career with the Mavericks. But given the limitations on what sort of deal they can offer, and beyond that, what they are willing to offer, it may be awhile before Wood and the Mavericks are able to come to terms on a deal.