Daniel Gafford

Trade Rumors: Rubio, Ball, Knicks, Wizards, Simmons

Ricky Rubio is busy playing the point for Spain in the Olympics but a number of NBA teams are doing due diligence on a potential trade for the veteran point man, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The Celtics, Clippers and Lakers are keeping tabs on the Timberwolves guard. Rubio has a $17.8MM expiring contract for next season.

We have more trade chatter from around the league:

  • The Pelicans and Pacers discussed a Lonzo Ball deal, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports, though it’s unknown if those talks ever reached an advanced level. Ball will be a free agent, so a deal would only be possible via sign-and-trade.
  • In the same piece, Begley writes that the Knicks plan to maintain enough cap flexibility to pursue top free agents in 2022, a class that could include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
  • The Wizards have received calls on their best young players, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. Those players are presumably Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Deni Avdija. The front office could be motivated to move one or more of those players to appease Beal in a win-now scenario.
  • There’s been plenty of speculation about a potential Ben Simmons trade. The latest from Mark Medina of USA Today (Twitter link) is that the Sixers are looking either for an All-Star talent in return or a starting-caliber player along with multiple draft picks.

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Westbrook, Beal, Gafford

Following the Wizards‘ elimination from the playoffs on Wednesday night, the franchise will face a number of crucial offseason decisions, starting with the future of head coach Scott Brooks. Brooks doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, but indicated after last night’s loss to Philadelphia that he’d like to remain in his current role.

“I love it here. There’s no decision in my mind, I love it here,” Brooks said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

The decision on Brooks will ultimately be up to Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard and owner Ted Leonsis, but it’s possible they’ll seek input from the team’s star players. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking for a change. As Candace Buckner of The Washington Post relays, Bradley Beal referred to Brooks as a “true player’s coach,” while Russell Westbrook endorsed the man who also coached him in Oklahoma City.

“If it was up to me, Scotty wouldn’t be going anywhere. It’s not even a question or a conversation to even be brought up,” Westbrook said, according to Hughes. “If the conversation is brought to me, I will definitely voice my opinion like I’m voicing it now and see what happens.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal’s future will also be a major topic of discussion in D.C. this offseason as the All-Star guard enters a contract year, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Beal said on Wednesday that he’s making an effort not to focus on the inevitable rumors. “Ultimately, I’m in control,” Beal said. “I think that’s my biggest thing. People are going to report whatever they want, but I know where my mind is and I know if it’s not coming from the horse’s mouth, then it’s going to be rumors. I expect them. S–t, they’re starting now.”
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the Wizards can’t – and won’t – trade Beal this offseason, but that they owe it to him to be bold in reshaping and upgrading the roster around him.
  • In his look at the Wizards’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) notes that Beal will be eligible for a four-year extension worth a projected $181MM this offseason. Marks also examines the team’s proximity to the luxury tax line and identifies wing defenders and depth as top summer priorities.
  • Recently-acquired big man Daniel Gafford, who looks to be part of the Wizards’ future, says he’ll be looking to put on weight and work on his conditioning during the summer, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. If I wanna be out there 20-plus minutes every single night, my conditioning has to be top-tier,” Gafford said.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Beal, Bertans, Gafford

Russell Westbrook was a game-time decision Saturday because of an ankle sprain he suffered in Game 2, but his Wizards teammates never had any doubt that he would be ready, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Westbrook not only played, he recorded his 11th playoff triple-double, posting 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to the Sixers.

I know Russ. If it’s not broke, he’s going to play,” Bradley Beal said. “So, I’m gonna be honest, I kind of knew after the last game he was going to play. Just knowing who he is, if he could play for two minutes then he was going to go out there and give it everything he had.”

Westbrook said after the game that his ankle felt “so-so” and he “just tried to go out and do what I can.” His status for Monday night’s Game 4 hasn’t been determined.

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal has taken a major step this season in proving he can be a franchise player, according to Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Beal has been moving in that direction for years, but his status became clearer with the trade of John Wall. “I take pride in getting better each and every game and, obviously, in the offseason getting better,” Beal said. “… Coach trusts me, teammates and the organization trusts me to just continue to lead and kind of be the franchise focal point. Obviously, I still have a long way to go and still have a lot of room to go. But I’m definitely not the same player I was two years ago in that series.”
  • The Wizards moved Davis Bertans into the starting lineup to provide more size against a taller Philadelphia team, but his shooting woes prevented that move from being effective, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bertans is normally one of the league’s most dangerous three-point threats, but he made just one of five shots from long distance in Game 3 after missing all four attempts in Game 2.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid is putting up dominant numbers in the first-round series after being an MVP candidate during the regular season. It’s a tough matchup for Daniel Gafford, but coach Scott Brooks believes the experience will benefit the young center in the long run, Hughes tweets.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Gafford, Roster, Offseason

Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook is officially listed as questionable to play Saturday’s Game 3 against the Sixers due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. Westbrook injured his ankle in the second half of Game 2. He played just 29 minutes and shot 2-for-10 from the field. If he can’t go, Ish Smith would likely move into the lineup and play big minutes.

We have more from the Wizards:

  • Daniel Gafford understands why the coaching staff hasn’t let him play heavy minutes, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details. Gafford has played 20 minutes in both games of the series. Gafford says his conditioning wasn’t ideal due to his spotty minutes before he was traded from the Bulls. “Sometimes it’s terrible, sometimes it’s better than what it was the day before,” he said. “I have to really just maintain consistency on where my conditioning is when it comes to doing things off the court and stuff. My conditioning was lopsided at the time [of the trade]. I’ve had a weird year, I’m not going to lie to you.”
  • Regardless of how the series shakes out, the playoffs are a perfect measuring stick for the Wizards’ roster heading into a crucial offseason, Hughes writes in a separate story. It could require a trade or a key free agent acquisition to take the next step to being a title contender, or simply improvement from within, Hughes continues. They’ll have to decide whether to mortgage their future to put the necessary pieces around Bradley Beal and Westbrook, Hughes adds.
  • The front office needs to put its mid-level exception and first-round pick to good use this offseason, specifically to address its lack of perimeter shooters, David Aldridge of The Athletic opines. With Davis Bertans rendered a non-factor in the series, Washington doesn’t have any consistent 3-point threats on the current roster, Aldridge notes.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Lowry, Magic, Wiz Arena

During a recent media session, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks responded to growing fan interest in athletic, defensive-oriented reserve center Daniel Gafford receiving a heavier minutes load, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“There’s always other things to consider; foul situations that we have to be aware of,” Brooks said. “One thing I love about Gaff’ is he understands and he wants to get better. He’s very coachable, he listens to our veterans, he listens to our coaches. He’s a really, really talented young player that’s going to continue to grow into a really good player.”

Gafford is currently averaging 17.7 MPG for the Wizards this season, more than starter Alex Len (15.8 MPG) but fewer than fellow bench big Robin Lopez (19.1 MPG).

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if the Heat will make another run at current Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, a free agent this summer. Miami considered trading for the former six-time All-Star at this season’s deadline, but instead opted to add guard Victor Oladipo, who only appeared in four games for the club before requiring another surgery on the right quadriceps tendon he initially ruptured in 2019. Winderman notes that Heat star swingman Jimmy Butler and Lowry are close, as Lowry is the godfather to Butler’s daughter. Winderman adds that adding a high-level veteran point guard to upgrade the position could help the Heat convince Butler to ink a contract extension, which he will be eligible to do this summer.
  • With the Magic potentially in position to make two lottery selections in this summer’s tantalizing draft, Josh Robbins of The Athletic examines which Orlando players seem most likely to stick around into the 2021/22 season, and which seem liable to leave. Robbins predicts that shooting guard Dwayne Bacon, forward Ignas Brazdeikis, and big man Donta Hall will all be moving on this summer.
  • The Wizards will be boosting the crowd capacity of their home court, the Capital One Arena, to 50% of its total capacity, writes Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. The venue had previously permitted just 25% capacity due to coronavirus-era indoor attendance restrictions. Now, approximately 10,000 fans will be able to watch the Wizards’ first postseason home games in three seasons when the team’s current first-round matchup against the Sixers moves to D.C. on Saturday.

Wizards Notes: Len, Gafford, Neto, Brooks

After eight years in the NBA, Wizards center Alex Len is finally ready for his playoff debut, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Len has the longest active streak with no postseason appearances, and it’s a distinction that he’s eager to get rid of.

“The play-ins kind of felt like the playoffs,” he said. “Every possession counts. You could feel the intensity was way higher than the regular season. It’s just probably the most exciting part of my career.”

It didn’t look like Len was headed to the playoffs when he arrived in D.C. in January. The Wizards were far out of the race when they claimed him off waivers after he had been cut loose by the Raptors. He turned out to be a valuable addition in the wake of a season-ending injury to starting center Thomas Bryant.

“When I came here, it was probably at the bottom or the second-worst team in the East,” Len said. “Then, climbing all the way back and making the eighth seed, it was a lot of fun. We battled through and guys stuck together.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Daniel Gafford is another member of Washington’s center rotation who is happy to be in the playoffs, Hughes writes in a separate story. Gafford spent his first season and a half with the Bulls before the Wizards acquired him at the trade deadline. “I was overwhelmed with a lot of emotion after (beating the Pacers in the play-in tournament),” he said. “I had to kind of just hold it in. … I would say this trade was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
  • Raul Neto is looking forward to facing his former team in a playoff setting, Hughes notes in another piece. Neto was a back-up point guard for the Sixers last season, and he believes that familiarity will be an asset for the Wizards. “I know every one of them; how they play, how they mentally approach the game,” he said. “So, I think I’m going to try to use that during the series and try to help my teammates if they need to know something else.”
  • Coach Scott Brooks found success with a three-guard starting lineup that he began using in late April. Fred Katz of The Athletic examines how that group will match up against a much larger Sixers team.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Harris, Oladipo, Hampton

Standout Wizards center Daniel Gafford has enjoyed his new opportunity with Washington, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News.

The athletic second-year big man has seen an increased role with the Wizards, who are currently the No. 10 seed in the East with a 32-38 record. Washington is 13-6 since Gafford became a regular part of the lineup.

Gafford averaged 12.4 minutes per game in 31 contests for the Bulls. In 21 games for the Wizards, Gafford is averaging 10.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and an astronomical 1.8 BPG, even though his minutes have increased by just 5.3 MPG a night (to 17.7).

When I got here, it clicked automatically because you got two point guards who really know the game, and really know how to facilitate and play-make,” Gafford said of his perspective on the trade to the Wizards. He hopes to continue to expand his defensive attributes with his new team. “I’m good at blocking shots, [but] at the same time, I can be able to contain the ball up at the key if I put my mind [to it].”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • New Magic wing Gary Harris has proven to be a locker room leader during his brief time with Orlando, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. “When you have time to spend with him and you watch him in practice, you watch the way he integrates with his teammates and everything, he has character both on the court and off the court,” head coach Steve Clifford raved. “Obviously those are the guys that you want talking in the huddles, talking in the locker room because he believes and he talks about the right things.” Harris will earn $20.48MM in 2021/22 before becoming eligible for free agency next summer.
  • Heat guard Victor Oladipo had a successful season-ending surgery on the pesky right quadriceps tendon that he initially injured in 2019, per a team press release. A timeline for his return has not been disclosed, but he’ll miss the entire 2020/21 postseason. Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and his checkered injury history figures to hurt his value.
  • In a wide-ranging interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball News, rookie Magic guard R.J. Hampton discussed his first NBA season and his tenures in Denver and Orlando thus far. Hampton averaged just 9.3 MPG across 25 games with the championship-contending Nuggets. Since being dealt to the Magic in March, Hampton has seen a significant increase in all his counting stats. He is averaging 24.8 MPG, and putting up 10.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG a night. “Now, I’m getting an opportunity to play, but I think throughout my whole season, I’ve progressed a little bit day-by-day and just gotten better over the course of these months,” Hampton told Kennedy. “I don’t think there are really any cons for me in Orlando; this is what I wanted. I wanted to be on a team where I could play and grow and help my team get wins. Those were the biggest pros and cons, and differences.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Nemanja Bjelica, Heat, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $20.5MM deal in 2018

There was a lot of bellyaching in Sacramento this season when Bjelica’s minutes were basically handed to Marvin Bagley III, as the Kings evaluated whether to make the 2018 No. 2 overall pick part of their long-term plans. Bjelica didn’t play for a month until injuries forced the Kings’ hands in February. He got a fresh start with Miami when it acquired him at the trade deadline. It hasn’t worked out.

Bjelica has been a non-factor while playing spot minutes. His 3-point shooting has tanked without steady playing time and that’s his top asset. Bjelica might wind up back in Europe unless he’s willing to accept a second-unit role at a much lower salary than he’s made the last three seasons.

Daniel Gafford, Wizards, 22, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6.1MM deal in 2019

When NBA analysts look at which trade deadline acquisitions have made the biggest impact, no one would have guessed that Gafford would be at or near the top of the list. He’s limited offensively but on his best nights, he’s a ferocious rebounder and shot-blocker.

Gafford is averaging 10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 17.9 MPG for a team that has been decimated by frontcourt injuries. His $1.78MM salary for next season doesn’t fully guarantee until next January. The Wizards hold a $1.93MM option on the 2022/23 season. Rest assured, Washington will keep Gafford around.

John Collins, Hawks, 23, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $11MM deal in 2017

Collins could be the most intriguing free agent on the market this summer. The Hawks can make him a restricted free agency by extending him a $7.7MM qualifying offer. That’s a safe assumption. From there, things will get very interesting. Collins’ name was bandied about in trade rumors this winter – he reportedly turned down a $90MM extension offer with the hope of getting the max, or something close to it, in restricted free agency. Does any other team value Collins as a max-type player? We’ll find out when the market opens.

James Ennis, Magic, 30, SF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.33MM deal in 2020

The Magic brought back Ennis on a one-year deal for a team with playoff aspirations. Ennis was a starter the first half of the season until the front office decided to hit the reset button. With Orlando in total rebuild mode, Ennis will be seeking a new team this summer.

With the Magic focusing on their youth, Ennis hasn’t played this month, supposedly due to a sore calf. He’s passed through seven teams during his seven seasons in the league. Ennis will likely be looking at a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal for a club seeking insurance at small forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Collins, Hawks Injuries, Olynyk

Daniel Gafford thought there was a “50-50” chance he could be dealt by the Bulls before the Wizards traded for him, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.

“I was in and out (of the lineup). I wasn’t really playing as much,” Gafford said. “So, there was a lot of stuff going on in my head, just really trying to stay as positive as I could.”

He’s thriving thus far since joining the Wizards, averaging 11.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.0 BPG in 17.1 MPG through his first eight games.

The Wizards were not only interested in adding an athletic body in Gafford. They also liked his affordable contract — he has a non-guaranteed $1.78MM salary next season, a guarantee Washington will almost certainly pick up given his production.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks big man John Collins admits that trade rumors affected him mentally before the deadline, he told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link). “It’s not an easy thing to deal with,” he said. Collins will be a highly-coveted restricted free agent this summer, since he was unable to reach an extension agreement with the club last fall. “Very disappointing to not have something done,” he said. “I wanted to stay here, I want to be here. Now the situation being as it is, just (have to) weigh all my options.”
  • De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell and Kris Dunn missed the Hawks’ game against Orlando on Tuesday and there’s no timetable for their return. Coach Nate McMillan provided updates on the trio on Monday and noted that Hunter (knee) was unable to participate in practice, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. Snell did some light running and shooting, while Dunn did some live work. They’re both sidelined by ankle injuries.
  • While Heat guard Victor Oladipo is sidelined by an knee injury, one of the players traded to Houston, Kelly Olynyk, has thrived in his new NBA home, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “It’s different for me coming from Boston and then Miami, just a different role,” Olynyk said. “But it’s been a great opportunity for me to go out there and play and help these young guys and help this team in a different way than my role was in Miami.” He had 10 points and eight rebounds against his former team on Monday.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Wizards, Bamba, Gafford

Hawks swingman Cam Reddish has recovered from his right Achilles soreness enough to incorporate on-court spot shooting and straight line running this week, per an official team press release.

The Hawks noted in the release that they will reevaluate Reddish’s progress in two weeks. The second-year wing out of Duke has appeared in 26 games for Atlanta this season, averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.3 APG.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards will allow 2,100 fans (10% of crowd capacity) back into the Capital One Arena starting on April 21 when they host the Warriors, according to an official team press release. The Wizards will employ COVID-19 precautions as they let fans back onto their home floor for the first time this season, including “health screenings, mobile-only tickets, and seating pods.” There will be seven remaining regular season home games that will allow for fan attendance.
  • Magic center Mo Bamba, the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, is firmly behind new addition Wendell Carter Jr., the No. 7 pick in the same draft, in Orlando’s rotation. Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes that Bamba’s rookie-scale contract expires after the 2021/22 season, and that for him to stake out a long-term future with the Magic, he will need to significantly improve his fitness.
  • As he works his way back from an ankle injury, new Wizards center Daniel Gafford may earn the starting nod for Washington by the end of the year, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “There are definitely possibilities of [him starting], but right now there are minutes restrictions,” head coach Scott Brooks indicated. Gafford is currently limited to about 16 minutes per night.