Here's why Christian Wood needs to stay put with Rockets...for now

When is the appropriate time to trade Wood? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rockets are in the midst of a heater. As of this writing, they've won eight of their last ten games which included an improbable seven game win streak. One of the more impressive things about this run has been the fact that two of their most prized future pieces, Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr, have missed some time. Green played in the first game of the streak and KPJ played in the first five. Since then, they've gone with a shell crew that has come together better than a last-minute dinner party menu.

Credit where it's due: coach Stephen Silas has done an awesome job at getting this team ready, playing hard, and adjusting. They're winning games by playing team ball. Whether it's making the extra pass, communicating on defense, or going all out, this team has showed a fire they previously hadn't shown much. Christian Wood was considered a building block when the rebuild was underway. After the James Harden trade, he was seen as one of the centerpieces of this organization moving forward. People wondered why'd this team give him the contract they gave him. Now, they're starting to see.

While his point production is down almost five points a game, his rebounding numbers are up nearly two a game. Factor in the rookies brought in, especially Green as the number two overall pick, and one can see why his scoring may have dropped some. There was some talk that centered around Wood getting traded before the deadline this season. Now we can't say for certain the Rockets actually are entertaining this idea, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has come up. Wood is the type of player teams covet in today's NBA. He's a big that can stretch the floor with his outside shooting, rebound well, and is a decent shot blocker. At 26 with this year and next left on his contract at a reasonable rate, he's going to be a player playoff teams may come after at trade deadline.

No matter what the offer is this season, the Rockets need to stand pat and keep Wood. The recent hot streak they've been on shows what the potential of this team can be if they put it all together. Why not ride this thing out the rest of the season and see what could be heading into the offseason? What if KPJ and Green get back and realize they need to fall in line with what's been taking place? Wouldn't most fans want to see what this team can do fully healthy? Besides, if they really want to trade Wood to see what kind of haul they can get in return (and to get Alperen Sengun more minutes), wouldn't it be beneficial to wait until the offseason, or at least next trade deadline? This approach would allow the team to assess the roster as currently constructed, see what needs improving, see who's available to draft and/or sign, then make the appropriate moves from there.

The Rockets are 28 games into their season right now, which is still a decent chunk away from the midpoint. Ejecting on Wood this soon would be senseless. See what he can do next to Green and KPJ. See what this young core can do with the vets around them. Veteran players can help these youngsters learn what it means to be a pro. Trades like this don't need to take place until the organization has a clear-cut direction. With Wood still under contract past this season, I see no reason to trade him. Unless...there's a Godfather-type offer on the table they can't refuse. Then, and only then, would trading a valuable asset like Wood be acceptable.

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The Coogs play Miami on Friday night. Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images.

Number one seed University of Houston is favored by 7.5 points over No. 5 Miami, and No. 2 University of Texas is favored by 4 over No. 3 Xavier Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Kansas City.

Talk about opening acts. If both UH and UT win, they’ll meet Sunday in a good ol’ WWE-style Texas death match for a berth in the Final Four at NRG Stadium in Houston. Thank you, Mr. Schedule Maker.

How much do you think Cougar fans would love for UH to get their hands on the Longhorns with so much at stake?

For one example, let’s go back to the future, Oct. 21, 2023, when Big 12 rivals UH and UT meet in football at TDECU Stadium on the Houston campus. The game already is a lock sellout with tickets in the upper deck commanding $141 per ticket on the secondary market. It will be UH’s first year in the big boy Big 12 and UT’s last go-around before heading to the SEC.

One last opportunity for lasting bragging rights.

That’s for a UH football game. At home. Where the Cougars typically have trouble packing half the house. For example, the Cougars will be hosting the Sam Houston Bearkats at TDECU Stadium a month earlier. Tickets for that game, the same exact seat going for $141 against UT, can be had right now … $17.

Yeah, there’s something special about UH getting the opportunity to face UT. In anything. Anywhere. And it’s been a long time since the two teams, once co-members of the Southwest Conference together, have met on the basketball court. A full decade, in fact. The last time they played was March 20, 2013 with the Cougars prevailing 73-72 in something called the College Basketball Invitational. The UH coach was James Dickey. UT was coached by Rick Barnes. Joe Young led the Cougars with 18 points. The Horns’ leading scorer was Julien Lewis with 28. UH finished that season with a 20-13 record. UT limped home at 16-18.

That was then, this is now. The UH-Miami game will air at 6:10 p.m. Friday on CBS with UH grad Jim Nantz calling the play-by-play. The game will alsO stream on Hulu +++. ESPN’s BPI (basketball power index) gives the Cougars a 90 percent chance of winning. We’ll take it.

The UT-Xavier game will follow at 8:45 p.m. on CBS. The Horns have a 70 percent chance of beating the Musketeers. If both chalks come through, they’ll meet Sunday afternoon with the game on CBS.

The Cougars have made six Final Four appearances: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021. The Horns have made three Final Fours, the last time two decades ago.

Here’s the only sure bet if UH and UT meet Sunday - get to your sports bar early if you want a seat. This could be memorable.

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