After having started just 21 of his 367 career NBA games before last season, Ian Mahinmi was elevated to a more significant role by the Pacers, and started all 71 of the games he played for the team in 2015/16. Mahinmi parlayed his solid year in Indiana into one of the more impressive free agent contracts of the summer — Timofey Mozgov‘s four-year, $64MM deal with the Lakers drew plenty of headlines and criticism while Mahinmi’s identical contract with the Wizards flew under the radar, by comparison.
As Candace Buckner of The Washington Post details, Mahinmi’s lucrative new contract means the Wizards are expecting big things from their new center, who says he’s still getting comfortable in Washington. “I feel like I’m back with my first year with the Pacers,” Mahinmi said. “I didn’t know [many people], but… I had to [take it] one day at time and show that you can rely on me, that I’m going to be there for them on and off the court. This is how I feel right now. It’s not the easiest thing to deal with, but I’ve done it before, so I’m going to be all right.”
Here’s more from around the NBA’s Southeast division:
- The Wizards made some major changes to their roster this summer, but ultimately they’ll still go as far as John Wall can take them, writes Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders.
- The Hornets signed Roy Hibbert this offseason primarily for his defense and his ability to protect the rim, but the team has been pleasantly surprised by other areas of his game, says Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “He can really pass, which I didn’t realize,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s got a feel for the game. He knows how to play. And you see it more around here every day.”
- Malcolm Delaney, who signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Hawks in the offseason, isn’t a typical rookie, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Delaney, who is 27 years old and spent the last five seasons playing overseas, tells Vivlamore that he feels like he belongs in the NBA.
- In a separate AJC piece, Vivlamore notes that no roster cuts appear imminent for the Hawks, who aren’t in any rush to reduce their roster to 15 players.