What to Expect from Ian Mahinmi: Pacers Have High Praise for Former Teammate | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

What to Expect from Ian Mahinmi: Pacers Have High Praise for Former Teammate

Updated: February 8, 2017

The regular season is more than 60 percent over and about the only thing Wizards fans have learned about Ian Mahinmi is that he prefers turtlenecks with his sport jackets.  

Washington’s big free agent acquisition has played a grand total of 14 minutes in one game after undergoing surgery in mid-October for a partially torn meniscus in his left knee that he injured in a preseason game, and then undergoing platelet-rich plasma treatment on both knees in December.

Nevertheless, barring another Alan Anderson or Robert Pack situation (knock on wood), Mahinmi is expected to return before the All-Star break (perhaps as soon as tonight in Brooklyn), and could eventually play significant minutes for this surging Washington Wizards team.

So, what can we expect from the $64-million man when he finally hits the court? I spoke to his former Indiana Pacers teammates back in mid-January to find out what Mahinmi did for them, what he can do for Washington, and what they thought about all that free agent money.

First, some context. As John Schuhmann noted on NBA.com, the Pacers had the two best defensive units in the NBA last season, and Mahinmi was the center in both lineups. Not surprisingly, Mahinmi’s former teammates raved about his defensive leadership.

Myles Turner, the second-year starter whose emergence in last year’s playoffs made Mahinmi expendable, spoke admiringly of Mahinmi’s defensive prowess and his professionalism:

“Ian is very great on the defensive end of the floor. He’s very vocal and communicates the back line defense very well and that’s kind of one thing I took from him. He’s a great pick-and-roll defender and then offensively he doesn’t do anything he’s not capable of doing. He kind of lets the game come to him. So, his poise and his composure is something I took from him.”

mahinmi myles

Pacers backup big man Lavoy Allen echoed Turner’s praise for Mahinmi’s pick-and-roll defense when asked about Mahinmi’s biggest contributions:

“Biggest thing is defensively, just protecting the rim. He was really good in the pick-and-roll defense. I’d say that’s the biggest thing. He ran the floor hard, rebounded the ball, he did a lot of things for us.”

Allen said the Pacers, who have struggled with rebounding and defense this season, could use Ian’s help:

“Yeah, it would help to have another big out there to defend. Yeah, I would say we really do miss what he brought to the team.”

Monta Ellis also felt that the Pacers were a more coherent defensive unit last season with Mahinmi in the middle:

“I would say we were tied together as a team as a unit. We knew that if we pressure up he had our back and we had to have his back and keep him out of foul trouble, stay in front of our man at times. I think last year it was more connected, more dialed in.”

Ellis described Ian as a Swiss Army knife of sorts: “Whatever [Washington coach’s] ask him to do he can do it — rebounding, block shots, run the floor, set screens, and roll to the basket and finish.”

Rakeem Christmas played with Mahinmi for one season and describes exactly the type of player the Wizards could use:

“He’s athletic, he blocks shots. He’s one of those players out there doing the little things, setting screens, rolling, stuff like that. When he comes back he’s going to be one hell of a player.”

It’s All About The Benjamins.

Everyone knew player salaries would jump dramatically when free agency opened on July 1, 2016, but it was still strange to live in a world where Timofey Mozgov set the market for journeyman centers at four years and $64 million. After Washington missed on a few higher profile free agents, the front office turned its eyes to Mahinmi and locked him up with Mozgov money. What did his Pacers teammates think of Mahinmi’s good fortune?

Lavoy, were you surprised by Mahinmi’s pay day?  

“I wasn’t surprised at all once I saw what everyone else was getting. He deserves it. He had a pretty good season last year so he deserved everything he got.”

 Did you reach out to congratulate him after he got the contract?

“I’m pretty sure he had a lot of text messages and calls when it happened, so I secretly wished him good luck. I was happy for him.”

 Wait, what? You secretly wished him good luck?

“In my mind I did it. I didn’t text him. Matter of fact, it’s still in my drafts, I just got to send it.”

 No rush, Lavoy. At least Rakeem Christmas hit send.

I definitely texted him and told him congratulations and I’ll see you soon. He definitely was [excited]. Everyone was happy for him.”

 Myles Turner shared the good cheer for his teammate:  

I was real happy for him. Just to come from where he came from to make all that money now, I was rooting for him. I know his family as well, so I’m glad he’s in that position to help the one’s that are close to him.”

 Does it give you any extra motivation to see a guy you played with being rewarded like that?

It does, but that’s not something I’m thinking about right now. I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m just going to keep my nose to the grindstone as a player right now.”

As a 12-year veteran, Monta Ellis knows the NBA is a business and he knew Mahinmi might not be back with the Pacers after last season ended.

You can’t predict that. We just had to wait and see and he got a better offer here and he had to do what was best for his family… He went and got his money.”

 Hopefully, Washington will soon find out what it got for all that cash.


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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.