Wizards

Gafford on Wizards' contract extension: 'I'm home'

Wizards
Daniel Gafford

After a whirlwind start to his career, Daniel Gafford felt some symbolism in the contract extension he received from the Wizards this week, a three-year deal worth $40.2 million that will keep him in Washington through the 2025-26 season.

It came after a seven-month stretch in which he fell out of the rotation in Chicago and was then traded to Washington where he became an instant hit and, after a strong offseason, their starting center entering the 2021-22 campaign. That rollercoaster brought plenty of uncertainty, but a long-term deal has made his life suddenly more stable.

"Just having them putting all their confidence and faith in me, it's real big for me because I feel more wanted here," Gafford said. "Day in and day out, coming into the facility, the atmosphere is loving, everybody is caring. We all want to win. I feel like I'm home here and I had no choice but to take it basically because this is my home. I want to be here for a while."

Gafford will be here for this season and then four more. Just knowing that gives him reassurance. But so does the money, as he was due to make $3.7 million combined between this season and next.

That's a good deal of money, but an additional $40.2 million puts him on another echelon. That's enough to change his life and the lives of many in his family.

Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. remarked of Gafford's contract that it will likely take pressure off of him now that his financial future is secure. Gafford agrees.

 

"It does. Day in and day out, I felt like I would have to look over my shoulder and have that feeling that soon I might be getting traded again," Gafford said. "Just having that feeling and having that relief and having that weight taken off of my shoulders is a real big thing for me. Now I can sleep good."

At only 23 years old, and having only played 24 total games in Washington, Gafford has become a pillar of the Wizards' franchise. His emergence has helped change the organization's outlook as they now have a young big man who can protect the rim and presents what appears to be a very high ceiling long-term.

He's also a pleasant person to be around and his teammates love him. Just listen to Bradley Beal who when asked about Gafford's extension started clapping slowly before the question was finished.

"Every time I see Gaff, this is all I do. I just clap for him because I'm happy for him. I'm a firm believer in rewarding guys that work their tails off and who help contribute. He's a very special talent," Beal said.

"To see the deal that he's on now and then to see what he got in his extension is life-changing. You can be nothing but happy for him and his family. But it's a chip off his shoulder and now he can go hoop. That's what I love the most about him. He's just going to constantly get better and get better."

Gafford now has the longest contract on the Wizards. Speaking of contracts, there is an offer on the table for Beal. Maybe he will be next.