Ian Mahinmi

John Wall Displeased With Wizards’ Roster?

Fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Game 6 of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Wizards’ point guard John Wall spoke at length on Saturday about changes he’d like to see to the Wizards’ roster next season, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. When asked what type of players should be added to the roster, Wall pulled no punches, yet was quick to assure that his postseason evaluation was not directed at any particular teammates.

“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”

Wall further elaborated, telling reporters he is in support of the Wizards bringing in an “athletic big”, which could of course be interpreted as a slight at Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wall when Wall was injured earlier this season, and little-used big man Ian Mahinmi who, in hindsight, was grossly overpaid in the spend-happy summer of 2016. Combined, Gortat and Mahinmi will make just north of $29.5MM next season.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, adding worthwhile free agents this offseason, per Wall’s imploring, will be no easy task. Washington already has nearly $116MM tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, not counting player options for Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Should both players opt in, the Wizards payroll would reach $124.8MM – $1.8MM more than next year’s projected luxury tax threshold of $123MM and nearing the apron – before free agency even begins.

Given that the $124.8MM figure only includes 10 players, the Wizards best tool will likely be their taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be about $3.3MM less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and limited to three seasons rather than four. Players looking to cash in on a MLE deal this offseason stand to make about an additional $19.2MM over the life of a non-taxpayer MLE contract, thereby lessening the Wizards’ chances of luring meaning free agents to the nation’s capital this summer. For his part, Wall thinks players should nevertheless entertain the idea of coming to Washington.

“I think those guys that are watching and seeing understand what they can add and what we might need to make our team better to finally get over the second round or get through the first round like we didn’t this year.”

Southeast Notes: Hernangomez, Mahinmi, Charlotte’s GM Search

Midseason Hornets acquisition Willy Hernangomez isn’t familiar enough with Charlotte’s way of business to see more action than the 5.3 minutes per game he’s been seeing since coming over from New York, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes.

Head coach Steve Clifford says that it’s not fair for either Hernangomez or the rest of his teammates to have him thrown him out on the court before he’s able to mesh with the rest of the players.

[He] will play some, but it’s hard for the other guys [to function well] when he’s not up to speed,” Clifford said. “With younger players, you don’t just throw guys in there just to watch them. It’s not fair for them, and it’s not fair for other guys on the floor. The team has to be organized, and we’re not as organized with him.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • After pursuing a larger role (and the inherently larger contract), Jonathon Simmons is getting his first taste of losing basketball. That’s made for a bit of an adjustment, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “I think he’s definitely tried to rally guys at certain times and make sure that we’re all understanding that it’s not acceptable to lose at the rate we’ve lost this year,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “But, at the same time, he hasn’t short-circuited, either. Sometimes guys short-circuit when they haven’t experienced losing like this. He’s been a team guy.
  • The Wizards will still owe Ian Mahinmi north of $31MM after this season, a troubling thought considering the way his usage has been trending over the course of the year. Mahimni’s playing time this season is down from last year and, as Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes, he logged the first DNP-CD of the season over the weekend.
  • The Hornets hope that their search for a general manager wraps up in early April, Katherine Peralta of The Charlotte Observer writes. “We’re going through an exhaustive process,” recently promoted team managing partner Curtis Polk said. “We started with quite a few names that we collected and put together a spreadsheet on these people and have been narrowing it down.

Wizards Rumors: Oubre, Gortat, Mahinmi

The Wizards haven’t been involved in many trade rumors so far this year, but they’re still a team worth monitoring closely in the coming weeks. Washington completes a trade-deadline deal virtually every season — in 2017, the club added Bojan Bogdanovic, and two years ago it was Markieff Morris arriving in D.C. at the deadline.

In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks took a closer look at some trade options for the Wizards, so let’s dive in and round up a few of the highlights from the former Nets executive…

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. is a key part of the Wizards’ rotation, so the team may not be willing to move him, but he’d draw real interest from other clubs if Washington makes him available. “Oubre Jr. and Marcin Gortat are two players that consistently come up when we have personnel meetings,” one league executive told Marks.
  • Ian Mahinmi‘s contract is currently viewed as “not tradable,” according to Marks. Mahinmi, who isn’t playing much for the Wizards, will still have two years and $31MM+ left on his deal after this season.
  • The Wizards have made a habit of trading first-round picks in recent years, but they’d be wise to avoid doing so this year, writes Marks. A league source who spoke to ESPN agrees: “Washington can ill afford to move a first-round pick this year, even if it upgraded their roster for the short term.”
  • Another NBA executive weighed in with a take on how the Wizards should handle their future first-round picks and add complementary players around stars like John Wall and Bradley Beal: “What Washington needs to is take a look at how the Raptors built out their team. Yes, Wall and Beal are homegrown talent, but the Wizards do not have a stockpile of young players that have developed into a key part of the rotation and could start on any given night.”
  • Marks identifies Tyreke Evans as a trade candidate who should receive interest from the Wizards, but suggests that the team probably shouldn’t offer more than Tim Frazier, second-round picks, and cash.

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.

Southeast Notes: Leonsis, Stone, Mahinmi

The Wizards have made no secret their plan to double down on their current core and a recent blog post from franchise owner Ted Leonsis only further documents how Washington plans to craft a winner.

The Wizards boast the youngest core of long-term signed max players, a testament to their willingness to commit to their guys, and they’re not afraid to dip into the luxury tax in order to preserve what they think is going to work eventually.

Further, Leonsis writes, the Wizards plan to invest in basketball development at all levels, citing the team’s acquisition of a G League club and plans for a new arena to house the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Reed, Hardaway, Muscala, Morris

Willie Reed hasn’t announced his intentions, but the Heat center sounds like he plans to opt out this summer. Reed, who is scheduled to make $1.6MM next season, is coming off a promising second NBA season in which he played 71 games and averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per night. It was his first year in Miami after starting his career in Brooklyn. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like for me, to be honest,” Reed told Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post about free agency. “Obviously I’ve never been in a position like this before. So I’m just trying to trust the process with things that I’ve done before, continue to work on my body, continue to work on my game and then deal with that when the time comes.” The Heat expect to have about $38MM to spend once Chris Bosh‘s contract is cleared from their books, but they have other priorities in free agency, such as keeping Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Matching an offer sheet for Tim Hardaway Jr. could be the Hawks‘ toughest decision of the offseason, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Hardaway is a restricted free agent after the team elected not to give him a qualifying offer last fall. He responded with his best season as a pro, averaging 14.5 points per game and starting 30 of the 79 games that he played. “That’s why I have an agent to do all the talk with the organization here and see what best fits for me,” Hardaway said. “I love it here. Atlanta brought me here and it really felt like I was starting all over as a rookie when I got here. They made me go through some tough times. They made me mature as a person on and off the court. And made me appreciate the game a whole lot more when I first came in the league. That’s what I’m thankful for.”
  • Fourth-year big man Mike Muscala is also a first-time free agent and the Hawks haven’t indicated if they’ll try to keep him, Vivlamore writes in a separate piece. “Atlanta is a special place for me,” said Muscala, who has spent his entire career with the team. “I feel like the organization is headed in the right direction with the ownership and the coaching staff, practice facility. I’ve loved my time here.”
  • Wizards forward Markieff Morris sat out practice today with a badly sprained left ankle that he suffered in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Celtics, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The team hasn’t commented on his availability for Tuesday’s Game 2, but Morris has already made up his mind. “I’m playing tomorrow. It’s final,” he said. “There’s nothing the doctors can say to me for me not to be able to play.” Injured center Ian Mahinmi also was held out of practice today, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.

Wizards Notes: Horford, Mahinmi, Smith, BIG3

Boston’s Al Horford could have been in the visiting locker room as the Eastern Conference semifinals get under way this afternoon, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Before signing a four-year, $113MM deal with the Celtics last summer, Horford narrowed his list to three finalists that also included the Wizards and Rockets. Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and VP of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard flew to Atlanta to make a personalized pitch to Horford. Point guard John Wall also joined in the recruiting process.

“Me and him had a great conversation,” Wall recalled. “He told me it was down to [us], them and I think Houston. He made his final decision after that, you’ve got to move on. It would’ve been great to have him on our team, but he’s with the Celtics. They had a great season this year. He had a heck of a season and we’re competing against him now so all that texting, all we had is out the window.” 

There’s more today out of Washington:

  • The Wizards have announced that back-up center Ian Mahinmi won’t be available for today’s game (Twitter link). That isn’t suprising, Michael tweets, because Mahinmi hasn’t gone through a full practice since straining his left calf two weeks ago. He has ramped up his individual workouts over the past week, but isn’t ready for game action. Mahinmi played just 31 regular season games after signing a four-year, $64MM deal last offseason, as knee problems limited him to just five games before the All-Star break.
  • There’s better news about reserve big man Jason Smith, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Coach Scott Brooks said Smith will be ready for today’s game. He has been dealing with a left calf strain, but played 11 minutes in Friday’s closeout game against the Hawks.
  • Four former Wizards players are hoping to be part of the BIG3 league this summer, relays CSNMidAtlantic. Etan Thomas tweeted Saturday that he was at the league’s draft combine along with DeShawn Stevenson, Kwame Brown and Michael Ruffin. The new league, which features three-on-three competition among former NBA players, will hold its draft today in Las Vegas.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Heat, Millsap

Whenever the time comes that Heat president Pat Riley decides to step down, head coach Erik Spoelstra will be eager to fill the position. Spoelstra recently spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on his podcast.

The short answer would be, I’m a Pat Riley disciple. He’s always pushed me and nurtured me for the next step,” he said, adding that through both good and bad, the Heat feel like a family. The coach tempered expectations that anything imminent could happen, however.

But, yeah, Pat’s going to go on hopefully for a while though. I think he’s younger now than when he was coaching. […] I want this to be the set up that it is. I feel involved, I’m in every meeting that deals with the [Heat] organization and personnel.

Spoelstra has served as the head coach of the Heat since 2008 and was an assistant coach for ten years before that.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Though they may have ultimately lost, Dennis Schroder‘s performance in the first round of the postseason shows just what the Hawks see in him, writes Michael Lee of The Vertical. “Dennis’ competitive spirit and his competitive nature, I think we’re always going to bet on that first,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
  • With their cap space set to shrink in 2018/19, this is the last chance for the Heat to land a major free agent, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes. Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap could be possible options.
  • Although it appears they’ll offer Cavaliers general manager David Griffin their president of basketball operations position, John Hammond and David Morway are also on the Magic‘s short-list, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • It’s reasonable to expect Paul Millsap to opt out of his contract this summer but the Hawks forward hasn’t made any decisions about where he’ll go just yet, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes.
  • The Wizards won’t need a seventh game to close out the Hawks but even if they did, center Ian Mahinmi wouldn’t have played in it, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. The big man had said that he hoped he would be able to recover from a strained calf in time to play in the first round.

Injury Updates: Rondo, Mahinmi, Nurkic

When the Bulls first announced Rajon Rondo‘s thumb fracture on Friday, they indicated that he’d be re-evaluated in seven to 10 days and may not be ready to return at that time. However, with Chicago’s first round series now tied at two games apiece, it sounds like the veteran point guard may be looking to force the issue.

According to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, Rondo has been ruled out for Game 5 on Wednesday, but was taking jump shots before Tuesday’s practice, with his hand no longer in a hard cast. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg insisted today that it’s still a “long shot” that Rondo gets back on the court in the series, but he acknowledged that it’s a possibility.

“It’s so early in the process,” Hoiberg said of Rondo’s potential return for the Bulls. “Just watching him wince a little bit as the ball was coming to him makes me think it’s a long shot, but if there’s anybody that can do it, will try to fight through it, it’s Rondo. Just because the competitor that he is and obviously wanting to get back out there. Doing everything that he can to put himself into position, knowing that it’s obviously still a long shot for that to happen.”

Here are a couple more updates on noteworthy injuries from around the NBA:

  • Injured center Ian Mahinmi said today that he still hopes to return to the Wizards before the end of the first round series vs. Atlanta, but he has yet to practice with the team, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. While Mahinmi says he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from a strained left calf, head coach Scott Brooks suggests the big man has been ruled out for Game 5, and he’s skeptical about Mahinmi’s availability for Game 6 (Twitter links via Buckner).
  • With his Trail Blazers out of the playoffs, there’s no longer any need for Jusuf Nurkic to rush his return. Nurkic said today during his exit interview with local media that he expects his leg injury to take about two to three months to heal, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (Twitter link).
  • On Monday, we passed along word that Austin Rivers will return for the Clippers in Tuesday’s Game 5 against Utah. Rivers will be on a minutes restriction tonight.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Mahinmi, Jennings

The first round of the 2017 postseason has thus far served as an opportunity for John Wall to showcase his progress as an NBA superstar, Jonathan Tjarks of the Ringer writes in a new feature. These playoffs, he says, belong to the 26-year-old guard.

Up an early two games on the Hawks, Wall and the Wizards have been particularly tough on Atlanta. The relatively unheralded point guard has simply outmatched Dennis Schroder throughout their time on the court together.

Considering that Wall still doesn’t even have a signature shoe deal, as Tjarks points out, he’s flown under the radar compared to his superstar NBA counterparts. That would change if Wall is able to carry the Wizards into an Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the Cavaliers.

There’s more from Washington:

  • Center Ian Mahinmi didn’t play for the Wizards in either Games 1 or 2 of their first-round series and isn’t expected to be available in the next two either, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.
  • The NBA has come down on Kelly Oubre Jr. with a $25K fine for kicking a ball into the stands and striking a spectator, the league announced in a press release. The second-year guard kicked the ball into the air during Washington’s post-game celebration.
  • Acquired to provide a spark off the bench for the Wizards, Brandon Jennings did exactly that in Washington’s Game 2 over the Hawks. The eight-year veteran has been a valuable source of experience, too, writes Ava Wallace for the Washington Post.