DALLAS – Ian Mahinmi hopes he hasn’t played his last minutes as a Maverick.
The Mavs took a minimum-salary flyer on Mahinmi a couple of summers ago after the Spurs willingly let their former first-round pick go. He developed into a solid backup big man, averaging 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game this season, which puts him in position to get a significant raise as a free agent.
Mahinmi’s preference is to keep cashing paychecks signed by Mark Cuban.
“Obviously it’s been two great years for me,” Mahinmi said. “The Mavs organization really gave me a chance to play and show the world what I can do, so I really want to stay here. But on the other part, you know that the NBA’s a business. We all know that they’re going to try to make the NBA better. Right now, I don’t know if I’m in their plans, but me, I really want to stay here.”
Brandan Wright is the only one of the Mavs’ “three-headed monster” at center who should be considered likely to be on the roster next season. While Wright was a nonfactor in the playoffs, his team option for the minimum salary next season is still a bargain.
Starter Brendan Haywood, who played less than 10 minutes in two of the Mavs’ four playoffs games, is a prime candidate for the amnesty clause. The Mavs will need to shed a significant salary to be major players in the free agency market, and Haywood is due $8.3 million next season (and $27.2 million over the three remaining guaranteed years of his contract).
“In this business, you don’t control anything,” Haywood said, acknowledging being amnestied as a possibility but declining to discuss it in much detail. “You just go out there and play. All that other stuff is handled by front office people and your agent.”
If the Mavs cut ties with Haywood, it wouldn’t necessarily increase the odds of Mahinmi returning. The Mavs might see Wright as a suitable backup center and attempt to use their resources to find a proven starter at a reasonable cost.