Should the Washington Wizards use the Stretch Provision on Ian Mahinmi?

Washington Wizards Ian Mahinmi (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Ian Mahinmi (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Ian Mahinmi was by no means a centerpiece of the Washington Wizards this season yet he still collected a cool $16 million. With a similar forecast for next season, should the Wizards use the stretch provision on the center’s colossal contract?

In the summer of 2016, the Washington Wizards signed Ian Mahinmi, a 29-year-old center coming off the best NBA season of his then eight-year career. As a full-time starter, his first time ever filling that role, Mahinmi averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds with a field goal percentage on 0.589 for the Indiana Pacers during the 2015-16 season. The jump in production led to a jump in salary, and Mahinmi soon signed a four year, $64 million contract with the Washington Wizards. He made just $4 million a year during his four seasons in Indiana.

Even at the time, as front offices and league experts predicted huge salary cap spikes and were practically giving away max contracts, the Mahinmi deal seemed expensive and ill-advised. It was. And years later, the Wizards are still paying the price.

This season, Mahinmi was the Wizards’ fourth-highest-paid player. He averaged 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.5 fouls in just 14.6 minutes per game. All four are the lowest posted per game averages for Mahinmi’s Wizards career.

With Mahinmi set to make another $15.4 million next season, would it be wise to cut things short on Mahinmi’s time in Washington by waiving him and stretching his contract?

By using the stretch provision, the Wizards would be able to waive Mahnimi this offseason and defer payment on the entirety of his contract until the end of the 2021-22 season. Instead of the Wizards being on the hook for another $16 million cap hit this season, they’d owe a measly $5 million (and change) each of the next three.

The Wizards cap situation is bad. Really bad. Before they even start spending this offseason, they’ll already be close to the cap ceiling. So it’d seem like any bit of relief would be welcome with open arms, especially relieving the team of Mahinmi’s money. Finding a cheap replacement for his on-floor production shouldn’t be hard.

But would kicking the can down the road really solve anything here? Yes, extending the pay date would give the Wizards some cap relief this year, but how valuable is that? They probably aren’t landing any big name free agents, even with the extra bit of cash the stretch provision would free up. And with John Wall‘s injury situation, next season might be a loss before it even starts. Is it worth it to add a little bit of talent that probably won’t move the needle at the expense of getting some real spending power next summer?

Besides, the Wizards might need Mahinmi next season just as a warm body to put on the block. Thomas Bryant is a restricted free agent and although the Wizards would be making a massive mistake by letting him sign anywhere else, there’s always a chance he’ll be playing in another city next season. Even Dwight Howard‘s future is uncertain. The 33-year-old center has already opted in for next season, but we’ve yet to see how he’ll return after missing 73 games this season due to injury.

And for what it’s worth, Mahinmi has been nothing if not professional as he’s seen his role with the Wizards dwindle from what he thought it’d be when he signed in 2016.

Next. Washington Wizards 2018-19 Player Grades: Chasson Randle. dark

A little bit of cap relief would help, well, a little bit. That relief would pale in comparison, though, to the flexibility they’d gain next summer once Mahinmi’s contract is completely off the books. The Wizards haven’t always been patient when trying to build their team, and it’s hurt them. If they aren’t patient with Mahinmi, and rush into any bit of relief they can get, their impatience may come back to bite them yet again.