At the time the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood was enjoying a breakout campaign, putting up huge numbers after getting promoted to a starting role. As a new report suggests, the New York Knicks appear to have taken notice, as the team is apparently targeting the former UNLV Runnin’ Rebels star as a potential free-agent pickup in the 2020 offseason.
On Tuesday, SportsNet New York‘s Ian Begley reported that per unnamed sources, there are some people in the Knicks’ front office that are “enamored” with Wood, who was averaging 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in just 21.4 minutes per game when the NBA went on hiatus last Wednesday. The Detroit big man, however, increased those numbers to 23 points and 10 rebounds per game as a starter, while also shooting 40 percent from three-point range since entering the starting lineup.
Currently, Wood is just days removed from becoming the league’s third player to test positive for the coronavirus, but as Begley noted, he was “feeling well” at the time of writing. In the days leading up to the suspension, the once-undrafted 24-year-old had posted career-highs in points in three straight games, clearly benefiting from former Pistons starting center Andre Drummond’s pre-trade deadline move to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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While Bleacher Report noted that Wood is in the second year of a two-year, $3.2 million contract, it’s still unclear how much he could stand to earn as a free agent in the coming offseason. However, Begley wrote that he could have a solid chance of contributing to the Knicks if he ends up signing with the team. New York signed several veteran power forwards in the 2019 free-agency period, but with only $1 million of Taj Gibson’s $10 million salary for the 2020-21 season guaranteed and Bobby Portis eligible to opt-out of the final year of his contract in the offseason, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson might be the Knicks’ only big men of note heading into this year’s free-agency period.
Furthermore, it was pointed out that Wood’s per-36 minute statistics are comparable to those of Kristaps Porzingis, who was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks in the middle of the 2018-19 season in a deal that “has looked awful” thus far.
Regardless whether the Knicks chase Wood in the 2020 offseason or not, the team (21-45, 12th in the Eastern Conference) has already won four more games than it did in the 2018-19 campaign, with its youthful core of Randle, Robinson, and rookie forward R.J. Barrett leading the way. As suggested by Begley, Wood fits the timeline of that core, though it still remains far from guaranteed whether New York will use its significant salary-cap space to invest in the Pistons youngster.