Houston Rocket trade value #1: Christian Wood
It should come as no surprise that Christian Wood is number one on this list. His combination of age (25), production (All-Star level), and contract (bench player) make him one of the most valuable trade chips in the entire NBA.
Due to the NBA’s max contract structure, the most valuable players are the top 10 or 15 players in the league. Because player salaries are artificially capped the top players in the league are by default underpaid.
After the league’s top 15 or so players the next most valuable players are players like Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson, superstars still on their rookie deals, and there are only ever a few of these players at any given time. Christian Wood resides in the next tier.
He is an All-Star caliber talent that is being paid like a solid rotation option. When a team gives up seven draft picks to get James Harden, as the Nets did, they aren’t just doing it to land a great player, they’re doing it because a player of Harden’s quality is always underpaid as well.
Wood produced 1.2 VORP over 41 games, which places him in the top-35 players if he maintained that production over 82 games. However, he was the 85th highest-paid player, showing just how massive the gap between his pay and play is.
Wood has two more years on his deal for $13.6 and $14.3 million. On the open market, he’d easily get over $20 million a season and likely over $30 million. Adding Christian Wood to your roster is essentially like adding $10 to $20 million to your team’s salary cap.
The return for a Christian Wood, if he were to be moved this offseason, would be immense. He won’t land a Harden-level return of four picks and three pick swaps, but he would definitely command at least two first-round picks and two pick swaps.
The Rockets shouldn’t feel rushed to move Wood, he has two more years left on his deal and it behooves them to see if he can continue to improve. However, if they get the sense that Wood has tapped out his potential already, then moving him now for a haul and avoiding losing him for nothing or extending to him a massive deal is something they need to consider.