When veteran center Zaza Pachulia signed a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the Golden State Warriors earlier this month, it was an obvious case of an older player taking less money to have a chance to contend for a championship. Considering the kind of money other centers got, it seemed clear that he was leaving money on the table. He reportedly was talking to the Wizards about a deal in the two-year, $20 million range, which they never officially offered but he would have accepted. Instead, they signed Ian Mahinmi to a four-year, $64 million deal.
The Wizards could’ve had Zaza Pachulia, CSN has confirmed with multiple league sources, for less (two years, $20 million) but went with Mahinmi instead. There were discussions between the sides but the Wizards were non-committal and Pachulia ended up signing with the Golden State Warriors for just one year and $3 million. Pachulia is three years older and faded down the stretch last season with the Dallas Mavericks. Mahinmi could end up being better in 2016-17, but $13 million-a-year better? How both perform next season will be worth monitoring.
Pachulia is 32 years old and has made over $51 million in his career, per Basketball Reference. He’s been on a playoff team just six times in his 13-year NBA career, and never made it past the second round. He could have cashed out this summer with the rising cap and high demand for big men, if he’d waited a little longer for other teams to miss out on his targets. But nearing the tail end of his career, a chance to contend for a title is difficult to turn down, and there’s no better situation for that than a Warriors team that suddenly includes Kevin Durant.