Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi is often the punchline of a joke for many Wiz fans. But that has more to do with his salary than value to the team.
No, this isn’t the summary of some sci-fi thriller, or even a bad sports comedy for that matter, it’s a reality that Washington Wizards fans may have to embrace this coming offseason. And believe me, I know that’s not what you want to hear.
But I’m going to say it, because I really think it would be a bright idea to bring back the soon-to-be 34-year-old Frenchman for his thirteenth NBA season, fifth season as a Wizard, and likely last season (or two) of his career, and here’s three reasons why.
1. The experience is invaluable to a young team
How many has Ian Mahinmi appeared in? 618.
That means that the three guys we would have to carry the load on the roster would have, combined, about a third of the experience, having played 404 fewer games than Mahinmi. Even if Ian doesn’t play a whole bunch in the games themselves, do we really think he has nothing to teach the young trio of centers on this roster in practices and beyond with off-the-court lessons?
To think so would be to be shortsighted in a solid veteran’s impact on the team. I would wager that all three of the mentioned bigs look up to Ian and would continue to do so should the Wizards keep the big man.
By the way, those numbers above don’t even include the 67 playoff games Ian Mahinmi has appeared in. The other three? Zero games.
2. His cost will be within the Washington Wizards’ budget
Much of the ire towards Ian Mahinmi by Washington Wizards fans comes from his insanely bloated contract. He’s not a terrible player, he’s just making an inordinate amount of money for the skills he brings to the table.
Mahinmi signed a 4-year $64 million deal that may go down as one of the worst contracts in Washington Wizards history. He’s making $15,450,051 this year, and averaging 7.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks (the best in his career by the way).
Those aren’t bad numbers to put up in just 21 minutes a game, but they aren’t worth nearly $15.5 million in any season, and it’s for this reason that Wizards fans see him and wonder what might have been had we not paid him all that money. What opportunities may we have missed because we were carrying Ian’s bloated contract?
During the next season, Mahinmi will be turning 34, and the Washington Wizards will presumably be playing for a chance at the championship. Mahinmi has every incentive to be on board that train having only won one championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 where he made big plays in the playoffs.
Since he’ll be interested, and interests in his services on the other side probably won’t be intense, the Wizards should be able to sign him for the veteran’s minimum at $2,564,753. That would be perfect for his level of production and role on the team.
3. He may be our only option
If the Washington Wizards don’t sign a center, we’ll be entering the 2020-21 season with three unproven guys. That would be fine if we were rebuilding, but with John Wall coming back the Wizards are planning for big things like a deep playoff push.
If they think Wagner or Bryant aren’t going to pan out, it would be a necessity to have someone who is a known commodity on the bench. Ian Mahinmi is a known commodity if not a super great one.
And I hate to break it to you, but NBA fans and experts outside of D.C. do not have as rosy an outlook for the Wizards next season, so even if there are other aged vets or more unproven talent in the free agency pool, they may not be as willing to sign as someone who has made their home here for four years already.
There’s always the potential they land someone in the draft and luck into a rookie scale contract, but the Washington Wizards would be wise to target a shooting guard or swing man there. So in the end, Mahinmi may be our only bet and the Wizards should at least extend an offer.
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