Daniel Gafford was the odd man out Saturday night as Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. decided to cut his center rotation from three players to two, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gafford, who signed a contract extension in October and started the first 45 games of the season, didn’t play at all in the loss to the Grizzlies.
Unseld indicated it might be a long-term plan, as he abandoned the substitution pattern he has been using since Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury. Bryant was the starter on Saturday, and all the back-up minutes went to Montrezl Harrell.
“Trying to play the three bigs, it became very choppy. I know the guys didn’t like it, I didn’t necessarily like it,” Unseld said.
The Wizards wanted to see how Bryant, who was their starting center before suffering the injury last season, would perform with the starting unit. Hughes adds that it’s unclear what this means for Gafford moving forward, whether he’ll be out of the rotation for a while or the decisions on playing time will be based on matchups.
There’s more from Washington:
- There’s some speculation that the Wizards are trying to showcase Bryant ahead of a possible trade before the February 10 deadline, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Gafford can’t be traded this season because of the extension, but the team can move Bryant, who has an expiring $8.7MM contract, and Harrell, who has an expiring $9.72MM deal.
- Free agent addition Spencer Dinwiddie indicated after Saturday’s game that his attempts to be a vocal leader weren’t received well in the Wizards’ locker room, Robbins adds in the same story. “You know, it’s an interesting situation. I spoke up a little bit early on (this season). It wasn’t necessarily welcomed,” Dinwiddie said. “And so, like I said, I try to do what’s asked of me. At the end of the day, everybody has a role to play. It’s about being accountable in your role to the best of your ability. That’s really all I’ve got.”
- Unseld understands the perspective of Bradley Beal, who suggested this week that the trade deadline might be a distraction for the Wizards, who have several players with expiring contracts, Hughes writes in a separate story. “I think what he talked about, the trade deadline, all those things; those are coming up soon and I think that does weigh on guys’ minds at times,” the coach said. “We understand this is a business and the team has to do what’s best for the team and players sometimes, they’re concerned about extensions, they’re concerned about their future.”