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Wizards signing Daniel Gafford to three-year, $40M extension

Wizards center Daniel Gafford

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 09: Daniel Gafford #21 of the Washington Wizards celebrates during the first half against the New York Knicks at Capital One Arena on October 09, 2021 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

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The Wizards outscored opponents by a whopping 7.1 points per 100 possessions with Daniel Gafford on the floor last season.

The last time Washington was so successful with a certain player on the floor (minimum: 300 minutes that season)? Ben Wallace in 1997-98.

A few years later, Wallace was really starting to build his Hall of Fame case – with the Pistons (following a year with the Magic).

The Wizards appear to be more tightly holding onto Gafford, signing him to a contract extension.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Gafford was already contracted the next two seasons for minimum salaries. This sounds like the largest-allowable three-year extension ($40,182,480):

  • 2023-24: $12,402,000
  • 2024-25: $13,394,160
  • 2025-26: $14,386,320

The Wizards could have declined Gafford’s 2022-23 team option and given him a four-year extension with his big raise coming a year earlier (raising the extension’s total value to $55,560,960). But he lacked leverage to push beyond the deal he got.

The Bulls’ No. 38 pick in the 2019 draft, Gafford initially bet against himself with a four-year minimum-salary contract just to get the first two seasons guaranteed. Stuck on that relatively meager contract, he would have had a tough time rejecting this payday.

Gafford really hit his stride after joining Washington just before the last trade deadline. His energetic rim running and rim protection really made a difference for the Wizards. The only drawback: He played fewer than 18 minutes per game. It was difficult to tell how much his playing time was impacted by a lack of endurance vs. Washington not trusting him enough with Alex Len and Robin Lopez also in the center rotation.

The Wizards could have a logjam at center once Thomas Bryant gets healthy. He was looking good before tearing his ACL. Montrezl Harrell remains one of the NBA’s top backups, especially if he finds a pick-and-roll partner.

This extension will help ensure Gafford won’t get lost in the shuffle (again?).