Looking at the Washington Wizards’ roster on paper, it appears they are in need of another center after trading away Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers. And that thought still may be true, but that guy may not necessarily replace Gortat into the starting lineup. That is because the team is “comfortable” with Ian Mahinmi starting at center, according to general manager Ernie Grunfeld via Hoop District.
Ernie Grunfeld said the #Wizards are comfortable with Ian Mahinmi as the team's starting center: "He's a proven starting center. He's won playoff series as a starting center. … We would be comfortable with that."
— HoopDistrict (@HoopDistrictDC) July 2, 2018
Mahinmi has started more than 12 games in a season only once in his 10-year career. In 2015-16, he started 71 games while with the Indiana Pacers. During that season he averaged 9.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game. The Pacers finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and were bounced out of the playoffs in the first round after a grueling seven games with Toronto. Mahinmi averaged 8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 24.6 minutes during those playoffs.
He then signed a four-year deal worth $64 million with the Wizards as a free agent the following summer. In two seasons with Washington, Mahinmi has appeared in 108 games and have yet to make a start. With the Wizards, Mahinmi is averaging five points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game.
Considering he averages 11.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes, Mahinmi has shown the capabilities that he can play strong in stretches, but can he consistently take on the pressure of being a starting center remains to be seen.
Grunfeld did add the Wizards will continue surveying free agents but did not elaborate on what players or positions. The Wizards have been linked to free agents DeMarcus Cousins, Nerlens Noel, Dwight Howard and Alex Len. Noel recently signed with the Thunder while the Wizards could only land Cousins in a sign-and-trade, which is being considered a “long shot” to say the least.