Daniel Gafford

Eastern Notes: Cunningham, Livers, Gafford, Strus

Top pick Cade Cunningham made his belated NBA debut on Saturday against Orlando, then sat out Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn. The Pistons’ prized rookie won’t play in back-to-backs in the short term, coach Dwane Casey told The Detroit News’ Rod Beard and other media members (Twitter link). Cunningham missed the first four regular season games due to an ankle sprain. Cunningham is expected to suit up against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Another Pistons rookie, forward Isaiah Livers, has been assigned to the team’s G League team, the Motor City Cruise, the team’s PR department tweets. Livers has been rehabbing from foot surgery, so that’s an indication he’s been medically cleared to at least practice. He was one of three second-round picks made by Detroit. Fellow rookie, center Luka Garza, and second-year guard Saben Lee have also been assigned to the Cruise.
  • Wizards big man Daniel Gafford returned to action on Monday, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. He suffered a right quad contusion against the Celtics on Wednesday. He underwent an MRI to ensure the injury was not more serious. He’s averaging 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG.
  • Heat wing Max Strus has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald reports. An MRI on the knee returned negative results. Strus is expected to miss at least two weeks, but is relieved it wasn’t more serious after tearing his ACL in the same knee in December 2019. “There was a lot of anxiety. It was tough to sleep the night before,” he said. “But the training staff did a great job of getting me in as soon as they could to get the MRI. As soon as I heard those results, it was just a breath of fresh air.”

Wizards Notes: Beal, Unseld, Gafford, Hachimura

One of the benefits of the Wizards‘ fast start is showing Bradley Beal that he can be part of a winning team in Washington, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. At 5-1, the Wizards are tied for the best record in the league after beating the Celtics in double overtime Saturday. Beal, who has been the subject of trade speculation for years, sounds as committed as ever to remaining with the franchise.

“I always say I want to win. I want to be productive and I want to win in D.C.,” he said. “We’ve done that, obviously, so far. Granted, we’re only scratching the surface.”

Washington shook up its roster over the offseason, trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in exchange for three players and signing Spencer Dinwiddie in free agency. The Wizards have a deeper team than they’ve fielded for several years and could be solidly in the playoff mix all season. With Beal eligible for an extension but also on the brink of free agency, it’s a good time for the franchise to be off to its best start in 16 years.

“It feels amazing, man. I tell these guys all the time, they can be a part of a lot of history over here,” Beal said. “Just from the way we’ve been doing things to the opportunity we have to create and mold our culture. We always talk about what a culture is and I always emphasize at the beginning of the year, it’s what we make it.”

There’s more from Washington:

  • One of the connections to the Wizards’ last 5-1 start is new head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was in his first year as an assistant with that 2005/06 team, Hughes adds. “That’s actually a stat I didn’t know,” Unseld said. “It’s great. There’s hopefully a lot of firsts this year.”
  • Unseld had good news about center Daniel Gafford, who suffered a right quad contusion on Wednesday, Hughes adds in a separate story“He’s much better. Still a bit tender. He got him right in the sweet spot,” Unseld said before Saturday’s game. “He’ll be out tonight, I think it’s more give him another day, day and a half to get his strength back. He got treated this morning and was moving a lot better.”
  • There’s still no clarity on Rui Hachimura, who was given a leave of absence for personal reasons in September, according to Quinton Mayo of Substack. Multiple sources tell Mayo that Hachimura hasn’t been in the practice facility at the same time as his teammates since the leave began.

Eastern Notes: Harden, Gafford, Simmons, Barnes

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday about his slow start to the season, Nets guard James Harden explained that he’s still shaking off the rust since he didn’t get to play much during an offseason that was mostly spent rehabbing his hamstring injury.

“I had no opportunities to play pickup or nothing this summer,” Harden said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Everything was rehab for three months, from a Grade 2 injury that happened three times in one season. So this is my fifth game of trying to just play with competition against somebody else. And as much as I want to rush the process and be back to hooping and killing, (you have to) take your time.”

Harden, who has rarely had to deal with injuries since entering the league in 2009, admitted it was “frustrating” and “draining” to battle the hamstring issue down the stretch last season and over the summer. However, he said that he thinks he’s “getting better every single game.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards center Daniel Gafford appears to have avoided a major injury after undergoing an MRI on his right quad contusion. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said on Thursday that he expects Gafford to be back in a mater of days, not weeks (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post).
  • There’s no set timeline for Ben Simmons, who told the Sixers last Friday that he’s not yet mentally ready to play, but he has been at the team’s practice facility during the last week, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s been working out,” head coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “Today he was at shootaround, did a lot of shooting and a lot of stuff with (skills development coach) Spencer (Rivers).”
  • With the Raptors set to face the Magic for the first time this season on Friday, the Scottie Barnes/Jalen Suggs debate has resurfaced, but fans in Toronto have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Barnes so far, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Barnes, whom the Raptors picked over Suggs at No. 4 in this year’s draft, has averaged 17.0 PPG and 8.2 RPG on 53.7% shooting in his first five NBA games while taking on some challenging defensive assignments.

MRI Set For Wizards Center Daniel Gafford

Daniel Gafford will undergo an MRI on Thursday after leaving tonight’s game with a right quad contusion, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Wizards center was injured in the second quarter when he banged knees with the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who remained in the game. Gafford fell to the court in obvious pain and grabbed the back of his leg before being escorted to the locker room.

An extended absence for Gafford would be a tough blow for Washington — the team is already playing without Thomas Bryant, who is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last season and is hoping to return in December. If Gafford is out, the starting center duties figure to go to Montrezl Harrell, who was acquired in a trade with the Lakers over the summer.

Gafford, 23, blossomed after the Wizards picked him up in a deal with the Bulls at the March deadline. He was averaging 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through the first three games of the season. Earlier this month, he signed a three-year, $40.2MM extension that runs through the 2025/26 season.

Wizards Notes: Gafford, Beal, Leonsis, Dinwiddie

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis considers Daniel Gafford a “core piece,” which is why the organization chose to give the young big man an extension, as he told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“I think he’s a core piece. To have a center that young with that kind of defensive presence, I think you saw that (in Wednesday’s opener),” Leonsis said. “People were thinking twice before coming into the lane. A couple of blocks kind of gets in their head. We haven’t had that kind of size, skill and leaping ability in a long, long time.”

Gafford’s three-year extension is worth $40.2MM.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Bradley Beal missed the team’s 135-134 overtime win over Indiana on Friday with a right hip contusion, Hughes tweets. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. is optimistic Beal will return to action on Monday at Brooklyn, according to The Associated Press.
  • The franchise has a max extension offer on the table for Beal but Leonsis isn’t fretting over the fact his star player is taking a wait-and-see approach, Hughes writes in a separate story. Beal can choose to opt out after this season if he wants to seek a new opportunity or if he wants to maximize his earnings with the Wizards. “Brad and I have a very respectful, very honest relationship. … He will obviously always do what’s right for his family. We will do what’s right for the organization,” Leonsis said. “I believe — and I think he believes — that there is synergy in what’s best for him and what’s best for us. It’s not something he’s obsessing over or we’re obsessing over.”
  • Key offseason addition Spencer Dinwiddie carried the team to its overtime win on Friday with 34 points and nine assists. Dinwiddie, acquired in a sign-and-trade, made several clutch 3-pointers and calls himself one of the league’s best in that department, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes. “Look, I get it, I’m not the sexiest name, nor do I [pretend to be] Dame [Lillard] or Steph [Curry] or none of those guys. But those things happen; the proof is in the pudding,” he said. “Like, game-winning shots, we can go on YouTube and look at mine. And if Brad’s out, I probably will be the one taking those most times, I would say.”

Southeast Notes: Magic, Gafford, Hachimura, Collins, Bridges

The Magic are being realistic about their expectations as they prepare for a season that will likely end with another trip to the draft lottery, writes Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. With the league’s third-youngest roster at an average age of 24.7 years, Orlando will focus on developing its young talent rather than wins and losses.

“I don’t really set benchmark goals. I always believe that if you play the right way and play together, then the results will kind if speak for themselves,” said president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. “Obviously, we’ve recalibrated what we’re doing right now, so with this group I do expect us to play hard. This is about growth. This is about the development of our players. It’s about a lot of young guys learning what it takes to win in the NBA.”

Weltman has upended the Magic’s roster since the March trade deadline, shipping out most of the team’s veterans in exchange for young players and draft assets. Mohamed Bamba, who is about to start his fourth season, is now second on the team in most games played for Orlando, and admitted surprise at becoming a veteran leader so quickly.

“I just try to do my part,” he said. “I don’t try to do too much, I don’t over-extend myself and when the younger guys come to me for anything, I try do the best I can to help.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Daniel Gafford‘s three-year extension shows the value the Wizards place on their young center, observes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team also has Thomas Bryant, the starting center before being injured last year, along with Montrezl Harrell, who was acquired in an offseason trade, but management decided to make a long-term commitment to Gafford, who is now the team’s only player signed through the 2025/26 season.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and has returned to the team, Hughes tweets. However, he won’t travel with his teammates to Toronto for Wednesday’s season opener, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura will remain in Washington and will continue individual workouts with assistant coaches.
  • Hawks big man John Collins is relieved not to have to think about his contract situation this season after signing a five-year, $125MM deal with the team over the summer, he tells Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “It’s like getting a full, restful night of sleep. That’s what it felt like to sign the paper,” Collins said. “That relief of stress and pressure just felt like I was fully awake now. It put me in a better mood. It took me a while to understand the stress but in the moment, it’s just pure bliss.”
  • Miles Bridges didn’t work out a contract extension with the Hornets by Monday’s deadline, but he tells Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer that he loves playing in the city. “I’m just going to continue to get better,” he said, “and hopefully I can stay with the Hornets my whole career.”

Wizards Extend Daniel Gafford Through 2025/26

10:40am: The Wizards have officially announced Gafford’s extension, confirming the move in a press release.

“We’re very excited to extend Daniel’s contract and continue to see him develop within our system after his athleticism on both ends of the floor made such an immediate impact for us last season,” GM Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “We are confident that he has the character and drive to keep working hard to improve his overall game and become an even bigger part of what we are building with our team.”

5:49am: The Wizards and big man Daniel Gafford agreed to a three-year contract extension late on Monday night, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that Gafford’s new contract will be worth $40.2MM.

Gafford, the 38th overall pick in the 2019 draft, spent the first year-and-a-half of his NBA career with the Bulls and played a modest role for the club, averaging 5.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 1.2 BPG in 74 contests (13.4 MPG). He was sent to the Wizards in a three-team deal at the 2021 trade deadline.

In D.C., Gafford enjoyed a mini-breakout in 23 games down the stretch, putting up 10.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 1.8 BPG in just 17.7 minutes per contest. Although the Wizards acquired Montrezl Harrell in the offseason and will be getting Thomas Bryant back from his ACL tear this winter, the team envisions the athletic Gafford playing a key rotation role at the five.

Gafford’s minimum-salary contract pays him approximately $1.78MM this season and includes a $1.93MM team option for the 2022/23 season. According to Charania (Twitter link), the new deal will run through the ’25/26 season, which suggests Gafford’s option for next season is being exercised as part of the agreement, with the new deal going into effect in ’23/24.

Monday was the last day for extension-eligible players with multiple years left on their current deals to sign new contracts. Since Gafford’s option is being picked up, he fits that bill, which is why he and the Wizards had to beat the clock late last night. If they hadn’t finalized an extension on Monday, Gafford wouldn’t have been eligible to sign a new contract until the 2022 offseason.

A player signing a veteran contract extension is typically eligible to receive up to a 20% raise on the salary in the final year of his current contract. However, someone like Gafford, who is earning a smaller salary, can sign an extension that starts at up to 20% of the NBA’s “estimated average salary” in the year which the extension is signed. This year’s estimated average salary is $10.335MM, so a 20% bump to that figure would get Gafford a starting salary of about $12.4MM and a three-year total in excess of $40MM, assuming 8% annual raises.

Cap/Contract Notes: Taxpayers, Allen, Carter, Shamet, Gafford

Now that all 30 regular season rosters have been set, 10 teams project to be taxpayers, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Warriors, Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Jazz, Sixers, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Raptors are currently over the luxury tax threshold.

Some of those teams are in better shape than others. While the Warriors ($159.9MM) and Nets ($110.4MM) project to have nine-figure tax bills, the Raptors are barely into tax territory and should be able to sneak below the line, perhaps by waiving one of their two players who have partially guaranteed deals.

Besides Golden State and Brooklyn, the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, and Jazz all have projected tax bills exceeding $33MM, according to Marks. The Sixers, Celtics, Blazers, and Raptors would owe less than $8MM each based on the current numbers.

Of course, these numbers can and will change over the course of the season as teams make roster moves, since tax bills are determined by the team’s year-end salary. For now though, the 20 non-taxpayers project to receive year-end payments of $12.7MM, Marks notes.

Here are a few more cap- and contract-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Grayson Allen‘s two-year extension with the Bucks features a base value of $17MM ($8.5MM per year) in guaranteed money, plus incentives, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The exact value of the incentives is $1.275MM annually, Hoops Rumors has learned. Currently, those are a mix of likely and unlikely bonuses, but since the deal doesn’t begin until 2022/23, those likely/unlikely designations will ultimately be based on what happens this coming season.
  • Wendell Carter Jr.‘s four-year extension with the Magic has a descending structure, Scotto tweets. It starts at $14.15MM in year one and dips to $10.85MM by year four. The deal is fully guaranteed, with no options.
  • In addition to having a team option on its fourth year, Landry Shamet‘s extension with the Suns has a non-guaranteed salary in year three, Hoops Rumors has learned. The last two years both have June 29 trigger dates, in 2024 and 2025. Only $19.75MM of Shamet’s $42.5MM deal is fully guaranteed for now.
  • Daniel Gafford‘s three-year extension with the Wizards doesn’t include any options or incentives, tweets John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Bradley, Heat, Magic

Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. recently praised center Daniel Gafford, calling the 22-year-old a unique defensive talent, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Gafford was acquired by the team in a three-team deal last March.

I’ll say this, I haven’t had the opportunity over the past few years to have a dynamic guy like that,” Unseld said. “The shot-blocking, his ability to change shots around the rim, to run the floor, to finish above the rim and be a presence to put pressure on the rim as a roller. His flexibility, his versatility; he’s very fluid. For a lot of guys that big, it doesn’t come easy.”

In his 23 games with the Wizards last season, Gafford averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 17.7 minutes per contest. He’s expected to compete for minutes this season in a Washington frontcourt that features Thomas Bryant and Montrezl Harrell.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

Wizards Notes: Offseason, Centers, Defense, Go-Go

The Wizards had an extremely busy offseason, headlined by the massive five-team trade that saw the team send Russell Westbrook to the Lakers and second-round picks all over the place, with the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Aaron Holiday, and 31st overall pick Isaiah Todd.

The team is undeniably deeper now, but is it better? Zach Harper of The Athletic isn’t sure, but in his offseason report, he says Washington’s newfound depth ultimately wins out, assigning the team a B grade for its work this summer.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Harper asked Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Wizards’ beat writer, the same question. Katz thinks the team is about on par with where it was at the end of last season, in the range of the play-in tournament for the East.
  • In Katz’ own Q&A mailbag, he speculates that Daniel Gafford will be the Wizards’ opening night starting center, partly because Thomas Bryant is still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Katz notes that Gafford needs to improve his conditioning to play more minutes, and is reported to be a hard worker. It remains to be seen how Harrell will fit into the rotation once Bryant recovers, as Katz views Bryant as a better defender and a much better shooter.
  • Harper and Katz both believe Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma will help the team on defense, but the Wizards will likely miss Robin Lopez on both ends of the floor. The two Athletic writers are also curious to see how new coach Wes Unseld Jr. handles the rotations, because one drawback of having so much depth is the limited amount of minutes available for several talented players.
  • In a lengthy article on the team’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, Jackson Flynn of WashingtonWizards.com spoke to several members of the organization about how they utilize the Go-Go to develop not just their young players, but young coaches and front-office personnel as well. New Go-Go head coach Mike Williams is just 25 years old.