Unrestricted free agent center Ian Mahinmi has agreed to a four-year deal with the Washington Wizards, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports. This is the second major move for the Wizards this offseason, following the re-signing of shooting guard Bradley Beal for $128 million over five years. Mahinmi announced the signing on Twitter.
@WashWizards let's gooooo !!!!!!— Ian Mahinmi (@ianmahinmi) July 3, 2016
Mahinmi had a belated breakout season at age 29, as the Pacers transitioned away from Roy Hibbert and their old identity. In 2015-16 he finally had the chance to be a starting center and made the most of his opportunity, posting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. His unexpectedly solid play was one of the biggest reasons Indiana made the playoffs, as he helped anchor one of the best defenses in the league.
Few were expecting to see such a leap from someone who had been in the league for seven seasons, so there's some reasonable skepticism about Mahinmi's play. He had struggled with foul trouble throughout his career only to show a lot more discipline this past year, and he became a more well-rounded offensive player after mostly being a finisher in the past.
His ability to find the open man as the dive man on the pick-and-roll in particular seemed to come out of nowhere. Mahinmi averaged two assist per 36 minutes in 2015/16, twice as many has he had averaged in his career up until that point. It might not seem like a huge improvement but for a player who had been extremely limited on the offensive end in the past, it was a breakthrough.
Whether Mahinmi is able to sustain that level of play going forward is unclear, but defensive-minded centers always have value and he's proved in that past he can hold his own on that end. Standing at 6'11 and with above-average mobility and athleticism, he can be a disruptive force around the rim. If things truly have clicked for him and he becomes a more versatile offensive player, he could be a starter for years to come.
Mahinmi joins a Washington front court anchored by Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. Mahinmi will be expected to help improve a defense that ranked No. 14 in efficiency. He also looks to be the replacement for Nene, who is an unrestricted free agent after four season with the Wizards.