Brendan Haywood is the only center the Mavs have under contract for next season, so rotation bigs remain fairly high on Dallas’ off-season wish list. Erick Dampier will soon be shipped out to allow the Mavericks to benefit from his instantly expiring contract, and optimally the Mavs will need two more players who can hold their own at the 5 for next season.
One such player is Ian Mahinmi, a 23 year-old power forward/center fresh out of the San Antonio Spurs/Austin Toros camp. Dallas has agreed to a two-year deal with Mahinmi, likely to fill in as a third-string center. That still leaves a bit of a hole behind Haywood on the depth chart, but the Mavs are likely to have both the full mid-level exception and their biannual exception to fill that specific need.
There are conflicting reports as to exactly how much Mahinmi will make with the Mavs next season (Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com asserted Ian would make the full biannual exception, which would put his salary around $1.9 million per season, whereas NBA.com’s Art Garcia reported that Mahinmi’s salary would be for the veteran minimum, which is roughly half that), but Dallas will get a nice project center on the cheap, regardless. Mahinmi is a decent rebounder and shot blocker, even if his post moves are inconsistent and he lacks the ideal frame for an NBA center.
Ian isn’t ready to be Haywood’s primary backup, but he’s definitely worth the salary the Mavs will be paying him next season. He has definite NBA skills and he’s still 23 years young, which makes him a nice find for a team that was looking to add rotation talent for minimal cost. Dallas just doesn’t have all that many ways to add decent talent at this point — bench or otherwise — and if the Mavs are able to score Mahinmi (one of the more promising young bigs in free agency) for the minimum salary, that’s a great get.