Home Sports Knicks mailbag: Free-agency push for Christian Wood is complicated

Knicks mailbag: Free-agency push for Christian Wood is complicated

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You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Knicks.

Will the Knicks pursue Christian Wood in free agency? — Yaron Rahmani

It’s hard to imagine the Pistons, after making this solid forward find, will let the 6-foot-10 Wood go easily. The abbreviated free agency won’t begin for another four months — after the Oct. 15 draft.

Wood, undrafted out of UNLV in 2015, became a steal for Detroit after the forward toiled anonymously in the NBA for four prior teams. Great job by Pistons chief Ed Stefanski, the former Nets executive who just added OKC’s standout executive Troy Weaver to his staff.

The Knicks like Wood — as SNY first reported — and he’s well over his COVID-19 diagnosis. Wood was briefly a teammate of Julius Randle in New Orleans during the 2018-19 season. In nine games, Wood averaged 16.9 points.

Granted, Wood played for the awful Pistons this season, but the 24-year-old forward averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games (Detroit is not part of the NBA’s restart).

Christian Wood
Christian WoodNBAE via Getty Images

Down the stretch, one talent evaluator thought Wood played at an All-Star level. But another team executive cautioned, “He’s been with five teams — he’s not a slam dunk.’’

The Knicks are looking for a power forward who can shoot from mid-range and the 3-point line with the likely departure of Bobby Portis. Wood shot 56.7 percent from the field — and 38.6 from 3.

Wood earned $1.6 million this season. Even with the major salary-cap reduction, Wood could earn five, six times that next season.

However be warned: The intel coming out of UNLV in 2015 was not stellar, according to sources.

That’s why the Knicks, one of the few clubs with cap space, might be hesitant to go long term to protect their 2021 cap.

Submit your Knicks questions to be answered in an upcoming mailbag

As an NBA reporter, do you think Kyrie Irving is right [about not restarting] the season? He clearly isn’t going to play anyway because he’s injured, [and he] is speaking as a player getting $30 million per year, not a younger player who needs the paycheck. — Luke Hubbard

Entering free agency, The Post reported the Knicks were concerned about signing Irving as their lone free agent but would do so as a magnet for Kevin Durant. The Knicks had no issues with Irving on the court but after doing due diligence on his time in Boston, brass was worried about his leadership skills.

The Nets are finding out the downside of Irving, whose inaugural season was ruined by shoulder issues. Now the optics are of him trying to ruin the Nets’ entrance into the 22-team restart after learning he wouldn’t be able to join them in Orlando as a cheerleader.

It’s one thing if Irving, vice president of the players association, lobbied to players against going because of the health risks. Players will be asked about Black Lives Matter during formal press conferences, and their answers will be beamed across the world (which is not flat). I’m with commissioner Adam Silver. The games will only send out stronger messages.

Irving’s stance seemed misguided, particularly when he’s still rehabbing. Forget that the Nets had a better record when Irving didn’t play. GM Sean Marks should be worried next season about Irving’s ability to lead the group. Kevin Durant is too soft spoken to be the dominant leader in the locker room. So Irving will have to step up as the commander.

Let’s be honest, from now, if Leon Rose [does an] amazing job, which season could we target in order to be competitive to win a championship? — Florian Chabasse

This is a good press-conference question for the Knicks rookie president to answer. Rose has yet to talk to the media since he got hired March 2. I know Rose really wants to break the seven-year playoff drought in 2020-21 — which is why bringing in his former veteran clients — Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Tom Thibodeau — is on his radar. Thibodeau snapped the Timberwolves’ 14-year playoff drought in 2017-18. Breaking the 47-year Knicks’ title drought is a whole ’nother deal but Rose doesn’t seem the patient type.

Will RJ Barrett play more forward next season after the team drafts a PG with one their 1st round picks? — Bill Josephson

At 6-foot-7, Barrett loses his edge against shorter shooting guards, but he’s got that versatility to be a 3 man. It all depends if Kevin Knox emerges because the Knicks ended their season without a legit starting small forward. Maurice Harkless, a free agent who could return in these tight salary-cap times, is better as a backup.

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