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Christian Wood says plan is for him to play ‘a big role’ with Lakers

Darvin Ham coached Christian Wood with the Milwaukee Bucks, and helped recruit him to the Lakers by telling him he’d be a significant contributor.

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Dallas Mavericks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As things stand right now, it sounds like the Lakers plan to bring new signing Christian Wood off the bench to start the season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t expecting to be a significant factor in the rotation.

In his first extended comments since agreeing to terms with the Lakers on Tuesday, Wood himself told Marc J. Spears of Andscape that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham — who was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks when Wood spent time there in the 2018-19 season — has already told him he will be “playing a big role” for the team this year:

“I’ve always wanted to be a Laker. I know we can win a championship. Communication with a coach is a big key. Coach Ham and I go back to our Milwaukee days and we’ve had great conversations everyday about this opportunity. He believes in me and told me I’ll be playing a big role and knows what I can do. I’m looking forward to this and Fasure motivated after what Dallas did.”

Before anyone panics too much, this message does not necessarily contradict any plans to bring Wood off the bench, or necessarily indicate any disparity in how Wood thinks his role will be vs. how the team views it. Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote that Wood “should average around 20 minutes per game when everyone is healthy.” For context, Thomas Bryant averaged 21.4 minutes per game for the Lakers prior to his trade last year as the most similar archetype on that roster to how the Lakers plan to use Wood as a backup center.

Would that still feel like “a big role” to Wood, who played 25.9 minutes per game in Dallas last season amidst differing opinions with the coaching staff about his role, and who played more than 30 minutes per game the two seasons prior? That remains to be seen, but if the Lakers do actually plan to play consistent minutes with him alongside Davis at times — for context, Davis played fewer minutes (13) alongside Bryant than he did with Matt Ryan (50) — there is a pathway for Wood to play minutes in the mid-twenties.

Will that be enough? Will he earn more with his play? We won’t know the answers to those questions until the season starts, but who Wood plays alongside — and how often he does so — will certainly be two interesting storylines to watch early on when the season starts.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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