Daniel Gafford Opens Up on ‘Dark Place’ Before Being Traded

Daniel Gafford

Getty Daniel Gafford dunks the ball during Game Four of the Eastern Conference first round on May 13.

Of all the narratives that emerged from the Chicago Bulls‘ rocky 2020-2021 campaign, none may have left a more sour taste in fans’ mouths than Daniel Gafford‘s rebirth in DC.

A second-round pick from the 2019 NBA Draft, he was sent to the Washington Wizards as a part of a three-team deal on the day of the trade deadline.

And since arriving to the Wizards, he’s taken on a major role on both ends of the ball and aided their run to the playoffs last season as the Bulls watched from home.

Gafford had fallen out of Chicago’s rotation almost completely by the time of last year’s trade deadline, having played in only 31 of their 43 games.

So, they traded the 23-year old to Washington, and the rest is history.

The former Chicago Bulls second-round pick finished the year averaging 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Daniel Gafford opened up about the trade that rejuvenated his career.

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Gafford: ‘I Actually Thought I was Going to Be Out of The League’

No player is guaranteed a long, lucrative career in the NBA, from the first overall pick to guys who go undrafted.

And before the Chicago Bulls traded him to the Washington Wizards, Daniel Gafford was realizing that in real-time:

There was one tweet that I actually paid attention to before I even got traded. It was like, I was playing myself out of the league, and I didn’t want that to happen — not at all. I actually thought I was going to be out of the league before my second year even ended.

He had played in just nine of his final 19 games with the team, and in that span, averaged only 6.8 minutes nightly.

But after being embraced in DC and helping the team’s run to the playoffs, Gafford elected to commit to his craft:

I took more responsibility for how [much] better I wanted to be. In [the previous offseason], there was times where I was in the gym and all that, but I still kind of had like a kid mind-set. I always wanted to be in the house, just relaxing and everything. But I can’t get better if I’m doing that.

So far, he looks like a player who put in the aforementioned work this offseason.

Check out this clip (via @NBA on Twitter) from the Wizards’ preseason loss to the New York Knicks on October 9:

Watch for Daniel Gafford to play another substantial role for the Washington Wizards this season.

And no, don’t expect the salt in this wound to sting any less anytime soon, Chicago Bulls fans.

Coby White Safe in Chicago, For Now

With new faces filling the Chicago Bulls guard rotation, much has been made of Coby White’s place in the pecking order, and uncertain future with the team.

Because not only is the guard room getting crowded, but the former seventh overall pick is currently recovering from a shoulder injury suffered back in July.

Yet head coach Billy Donovan seems to be a large supporter of White’s, and the 21-year old needs as many of those as he can get within the organization.

Going into his second year leading the charge in the Windy City, he sounded optimistic about the third-year guard when speaking (via The Athletic) with reporters:

He’s got enough belief and confidence in himself, and I think he’s heard enough from me about how I feel about him that I think he knows and is pretty confident that there will be a role for him that will be important to helping us.

Donovan also made sure to credit how White’s since handled the injury, the latest of obstacles in his NBA career:

I give him a lot of credit because I think his mentality and disposition was, like, ‘Listen, we’ll figure that piece of it out.’ And ‘Whatever I can do to help the team.’ And I told him, I said, ‘Listen, there’s going to be a lot of value.’

Even if he doesn’t prove a natural point guard, as his head coach notes, his ability to score at will should still be considered a luxury in the NBA.

And on this roster, that makes White a near-perfect fit:

There’s not a lot of guys in this league that shoot the ball the way he does. And when you’ve got really good offensive players, one-on-one players like those three guys we’ve been talking about (Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević), having a guy like that who can knock down a shot is really important.

When guard Coby White makes his return to the Chicago Bulls, it’s unclear what role they’ll have waiting for him.

But with head coach Billy Donovan in his corner, there’s reason to still be optimistic about his NBA career.

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