Ian Mahinmi

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Kawhi Leonard scores 34, Paul George 31, Clippers put up 150 in beating Wizards

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LOS ANGELES — Coach Doc Rivers called the first play of the game for Paul George and he hit a 3-pointer.

His teammates found him the rest of the way.

Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, George added 31, and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled past undermanned Washington 150-125 on Sunday night for their 12th win in a row over the Wizards at home.

“It’s those new shoulders. He’s just a great shooter,” Rivers said of George. “He’s shooting deep shots on the move and doing it with great balance.”

Montrezl Harrell added 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds and Lou Williams had 22 points for the Clippers, who led all the way in improving to a franchise-best 12-1 at Staples Center.

“Their athletes are long, wiry and strong and defensive-minded,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “On top of that, they can score. That’s a great benefit.”

The Clippers shot 57% in taking a 27-point lead in the first half when George had 27 points.

“We just came out a little bit more aggressive as a unit,” Williams said. “We were very efficient on the offensive end. The shots we took a lot of times were ones we wanted to take.”

George and Leonard combined to score 10 of the Clippers’ first 13 points in the third when they led 95-69.

The Wizards ran off 11 straight points to close within 15 in their only major spurt of the game.

From there, the Clippers outscored Washington 19-12 to lead 116-98 going into the fourth.

For the game, the Clippers shot 55%, owned a 66-46 edge in the paint and their bench outscored the Wizards reserves 73-39.

“We’re pretty good once we’re clicking,” Williams said. “Every once in a while you kind of see glimpses where guys are on the same page.”

Rookie Rui Hachimura scored a career-high 30 points and Bradley Beal added 23 points and 11 assists for the Wizards. They were without injured John Wall, Moe Wagner, C.J. Miles and Ian Mahinmi in losing for the fourth time in five games.

Davis Bertans had 20 points and a tied his career high with six 3-pointers for Washington.

Leonard scored 11 of the Clippers’ first 20 points in the fourth. George added a pair of free throws and Williams scored seven in the stretch that extended their lead to 138-107. Leonard and George then sat down and turned it over to the bench to finish off the blowout victory.

It was the second time this season the Clippers scored 150 points. They beat Atlanta 150-101 last month.

Wizards: Ian Mahinmi out to begin regular season

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
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With John Wall and Isaiah Thomas injured, the Wizards have no backup point guard behind Ish Smith. The situation is even gloomier at small forward with C.J. Miles, Troy Brown and Admiral Schofield all banged up.

Add center to the list of positions where Washington is woefully thin.

Wizards release:

Wizards center Ian Mahinmi is out with a strained right Achilles tendon. He will be treated conservatively before being re-evaluated in six weeks.

Washington will play nine regular-season games in the next six weeks.

This leaves Thomas Bryant at center. He’ll provide plenty of activity, but he can’t do it alone. The Wizards have to play small, though some of their power forwards – Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans and Moritz Wagner – might have to play small forward given the injury issues there. Plugging one hole creates another.

Hope is dissipating from a season that already contained little.

Newly minted Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard quickly faces Bradley Beal questions

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While ownership danced with Tim Connley in Denver and Masai Ujiri in Toronto, Tommy Sheppard spent the past few months trying to clean up a mess of a Washington Wizards roster and, more importantly, their messed up salary cap situation.

There was only so much Sheppard could do considering John Wall‘s supermax extension kicks in next season (and runs four seasons) and the team will pay Ian Mahinmi $15.5 million. However, Sheppard got Washington below the tax number by trading Dwight Howard and letting three players — Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis, and Jabari Parker — just walk. He then tried to add inexpensive and interesting talent to the roster, such as Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, and Moritz Wagner. It was all those moves that ultimately got the “interim” tag taken off his GM job title, reports Chase Hughes at NBC Sports Washington.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a “trial run,” according to a person familiar with the process.

However, the biggest test comes next Friday, and how Sheppard and Wizards ownership handle it will define the course of the franchise for years.

On July 26 (Friday), the Wizards can — and by all indications will — offer Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million contract extension.

Beal likely turns it down.

That’s the growing sense around the league. While part of his motivation may be questions about the future direction in Washington, there are also cold financial reasons to say no — Beal makes more money if he waits. Maybe even to the point of becoming a free agent in 2021. Our own Dan Feldman broke it down this way (future estimates based on salary cap projections by the NBA):

• Sign this 2019 extension: $111.8 over three years ($35.1 million per year)
• Make All-NBA next season and sign a super-max extension in 2020: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on regular-max in 2021: $214 million over five years ($43 million per year)
• Become a free agent and re-sign with Wizards on super-max in 2021: $250 million over five years ($50 million per year)
• Leave Wizards in 2021: $159 million over four years ($40 million per year)

Beal can afford to bet on himself and wait, he just turned 26 and has not had the kind of injury issues that would make him think he needs to take the security now (he has played 82 games each of the last two seasons).

How do Sheppard — and Wizards’ management — react when Beal says no is the question. That is the real test Sheppard faces.

Part of that reaction will be based on what Beal and his representatives say: Do they turn down the offer and say Beal wants to be traded?

Or, do they turn down the offer and say, “Beal wants to stay but will wait because he wants a super-max contract?” (Beal finished seventh in All-NBA guard voting, with the top six making the All-NBA, he is right on the cusp.) This may be the most likely option, Beal cannot get the super-max contract if traded.

If/when Beal turns the Wizards down, Sheppard’s phone will start ringing again with teams testing the trade market waters for Beal. There is tremendous interest in him from across the league.

How Sheppard handles those calls will start to set the tone for what is next in Washington. What the Wizards do with Beal — and John Wall, out for the season with a torn Achilles and already on his super-max — will define Wizards’ basketball for years to come.

Report: Wizards signing Ish Smith, signing-and-trading Tomas Satoransky to Bulls

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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With John Wall sidelined a long time, the Wizards need a point guard for next season.

It won’t be incumbent backup Tomas Satoransky, who showed nice production and promise in Washington.

Instead, the Wizards will turn to Ish Smith.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Emiliano Carchia of Sportando:

David Aldridge of The Athletic:

I like Satoransky for the Bulls. They drafted Coby White but needed a veteran option. Satoransky deserved a shot to start somewhere, and he can hold that role as White develops. If White becomes ready in the next three years, the 27-year-old Satoransky can slide to the bench. Though he’s better at and prefers to play point guard, Satoransky can also sometimes play the wing with White in the backcourt.

Between Satoransky and Thaddeus Young (three years, $41 million), Chicago has added a couple quality veterans. The Bulls also traded for Otto Porter, another upgrade, during last season. If its young players – Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchinson – are ready to take the next step, Chicago could compete for the playoffs next year.

Will Washington? Bradley Beal is better than any Bull, but his supporting cast is lacking. Burdened by Wall’s, Ian Mahinmi‘s and Dwight Howard‘s contracts and trying to stay out of the luxury tax, the Wizards are on a tight budget.

Smith is a fine placeholder given the circumstances. He can run the offense provide a good presence in the locker room. Washington needs both.

But there are reasons he came cheaper than Satoransky. Smith became expendable to the Pistons when they got Derrick Rose. Smith, who turns 31 this week, is a speedster with an unreliable jumper. He doesn’t carry untapped upside, but for the stability the Wizards want now, he’s perfectly fine.

Washington also gets a couple picks for Satoransky, whom the Wizards probably weren’t keeping, anyway. That’s part of the leverage a team gets in restricted free agency.