Daniel Gafford, Kristaps Porzingis mark eighth year of ex-Wizards in NBA Finals

For the better part of the past decade, one team has remained a constant in the NBA Finals. No, not the Golden State Warriors.

It’s the Washington Wizards.

Pointed out by esquiresports on TikTok, Washington — a team which hasn’t won a title since 1978 — has managed to have a former player on each of the past seven NBA championship teams.

The trend will continue this season as either Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford or Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Gafford was acquired by the Wizards from the Chicago Bulls in March 2021 as part of a three-team trade that also included the Celtics. The Mavs acquired Gafford from the Wizards in February 2024 for Richaun Holmes and draft compensation.

In February 2022, Dallas sent Porzingis and a second-round pick to Washington for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. He landed in Boston thanks to a three-team deal between the Celtics, Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies in June 2023.

Somehow, all roads have led out of the nation’s capital and onto a championship roster. Here’s each player’s individual route:

Jeff Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ish Smith, Thomas Bryant

How they got to Washington: Green joined the Wizards ahead of the 2018-19 season, signing a one-year deal after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the same offseason, Bryant was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Lakers. Smith’s path to Washington involved signing a two-year deal for the 2019-21 seasons, marking his 11th team in eight seasons. Caldwell-Pope’s tenure with the Wizards was short-lived. He spent the 2021-22 season in Washington after being acquired from the Lakers as part of the blockbuster Russell Westbrook deal.

How they got to Denver: Green signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Nuggets in August 2021, bringing his veteran presence and playing experience to a young Denver squad. Notably, Green played the sixth-most regular-season games (1,107) before winning his first championship in 2023, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Caldwell-Pope and Smith were traded to the Nuggets in 2022, in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton, strengthening Denver’s backcourt. After starting the season in Los Angeles, Bryant’s time in Denver began in February 2023, when he was dealt by the Lakers. He appeared in 18 regular-season games and one playoff game for the Nuggets.

2022 Golden State Warriors

Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Chris Chiozza

How they got to Washington: Payton II signed a 10-day contract with the Wizards in January 2019. Though he had stints with two G-League teams throughout the year, he re-signed with the Wizards in December 2019.

After helping the Georgetown Hoyas acquire a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, Porter Jr. was drafted third overall by the Wizards in 2013.

Chiozza went undrafted in 2018 and began his career with Washington’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. He signed a two-way contract to split time between the Wizards and the Go-Go in October 2019.

How they got to Golden State: Payton was selected 15th overall by the Raptors 905 in the 2021 NBA G League draft, where he earned the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year award. He then signed a 10-day contract with the Warriors in April. He was waived before the regular season and re-signed with the team in October.

Golden State signed Porter Jr., who was a free agent, in August 2021. Chiozza signed a two-way deal with the team that same month.

Bobby Portis

How he got to Washington: In 2019, the Wizards traded the aforementioned Porter Jr. to the Bulls for Portis and Jabari Parker, along with a protected 2023 second-round draft pick.

How he got to Milwaukee: Portis became a free agent when the New York Knicks declined his $15.75 million team option for the 2020-21 season. In November 2020, he agreed on a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Bucks.

2020 Los Angeles Lakers

JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris

How they got to Washington: McGee was selected 18th overall by the Wizards in the 2008 NBA draft.

In 2016, the Phoenix Suns dealt Morris to Washington for DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries and a 2016 first-round draft pick.

In July 2018, Howard signed a two-year, $11 million free agent deal with the Wizards after the Brooklyn Nets finalized a contract buyout with the center.

How they got to Los Angeles: After winning two championships with the Warriors, McGee signed a one-year deal with the Lakers for the veteran minimum in July 2018. The following year, he received a two-year, $16 million extension.

Howard returned to Los Angeles for a second stint with the Lakers in August 2019 after signing a veteran’s minimum contract.

Morris cleared waivers in February 2020 and signed with Los Angeles.

Jodie Meeks

How he got to Washington: In July 2017, Meeks signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Wizards in free agency.

How he got to Toronto: Meeks agreed to a 10-day contract with the Raptors in February 2019. The following month, he was signed through the remainder of the season.

2017-2018 Golden State Warriors

JaVale McGee, Shaun Livingston

How they got to Washington: McGee was selected 18th overall by the Wizards in 2008.
Livingston signed a 10-day contract with the Wizards in February 2010 before later signing through the rest of the season. His second stint with the team came in November 2012, but it was short-lived after he was waived the next month.

How they got to Golden State: Livingston was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft, but a severe knee injury changed the course of his career. After a one-year stint with the Cavaliers where he played a career-high 76 games, Livingston signed with Golden State as a free agent in July 2014. During his time with the Warriors, he appeared in five consecutive NBA Finals series before retiring in September 2019.

McGee was invited to Golden State’s training camp in July 2016 and signed with the team in September 2016.

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