DALLAS – No one really knew what Christian Wood’s role would be heading into Monday’s media day at American Airlines Center, including Wood himself.
So, when head coach Jason Kidd came out and said that he sees Wood coming off the bench, it was the big man’s first time hearing those words from Kidd himself.
“This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said, followed by a nod and a smile. “I am motivated either way if it’s coming off the bench or starting. It is something that I can figure out. I am not really worried about who starts the game. It’s about who finishes it.
“I am not too worried.”
Christian Wood’s role this season
The news regarding Wood’s possible role off the bench first broke in the summer through a story by Tim Cato of The Athletic. At the time, the feasibility of someone who, last season, averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds coming off the bench didn’t seem like a reality.
Yet, on media day, Kidd not only admitted that it was a reality. He doubled down, providing a tentative explanation for who he sees as day-one starters.
Kidd’s projections for the two players he will add to the starting lineup? Simple: Spencer Dinwiddie and JaVale McGee.
What Kidd didn’t do, however, was take the possibility of Wood stepping into a larger role as the season progresses.
“Flexibility is something that you have to have as a head coach,” Kidd said. “He can start at times if the matchup is something we want to look at. I talked about it last year, you will see a lot of different lineups so that we can get the answers to the test, for when we make it to the playoffs, guys are comfortable.
“So, I want Wood to be himself.”
How Christian Wood feels about a bench role
That is easier said than done. In a contract year, Wood – like any player in the league – has his next big contract on his mind. He knows that. During his media day interview, he noted that coming off the bench was something that could be an influence when contract negotiations start, but in his mind, he’s only focused on winning this season. Which is something he hasn’t done much of throughout his career.
“Coming off the bench is something that will happen with talks for extensions and free agency, but during the season, it’s not going to get me off my pivot,” Wood said.
Wood knows winning is the only thing that will help his value come next summer. Whether that is coming off the bench or starting, his priority is showcasing he can be a cog in a winning machine.
Kidd is aware of that too. And bringing Wood off the bench, at least to start the season, gives some credence to the idea that he may not be Dallas’ long-term solution for the Luka Doncic-led iteration of the Mavericks.
Regardless, Kidd’s candid admittance of Wood coming off the bench makes for an interesting narrative at the start of training camp. It also solidifies that even the Mavericks aren’t sure how or where Wood will fit within Doncic’s heliocentric orbit.
“I excel when I play with a pass-first point guard,” Wood said. “Me and him together will be so much fun… We’ll see coming off the bench.”
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Feature image via Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.