- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford agreed to a three-year, $40 million extension late Monday — a move that rewards the 23-year-old for his productive play and keeps him under contract for the foreseeable future. 

Gafford, acquired from the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline last March, proved to be a steal for the Wizards in the final months of the 2020-21 season. In 23 games, he averaged 10.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest for Washington. The Wizards valued Gafford for his ability to block shots and roll to the rim — a skill set the team had been badly missed until Gafford‘s arrival. 

Now, Gafford will be under contract until 2026. The extension doesn’t kick in until the 2023-24 season as Gafford has two years remaining on his current deal. He‘s set to make just $1.7 million this upcoming season.

The Wizards and Gafford finalized the deal just days before the team’s season opener Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. Gafford is expected to have a bigger role this year as the Wizards look to have him be an anchor defensively.

The team announced the move Tuesday.

“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,” Wizards general manager 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.”

Gafford, a 2019 second-round pick out of Arkansas, spent the first few years of his career mostly outside of the rotation in Chicago. The Wizards acquired him for forward Troy Brown at last year’s deadline. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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