WASHINGTON — In a considerable blow to the Wizards’ frontcourt, backup center Ian Mahinmi has partially torn the meniscus in his left knee, the team announced.
Per the Wizards, the injury occurred in Thursday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He had an MRI Friday that revealed the tear, and Mahinmi underwent successful surgery that evening. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which puts his return at mid-late November. The Wizards begin their regular season on Oct. 27, so he could miss the first 10-15 games.
Mahinmi, who signed a four-year, $64 million deal in the offseason, was expected to play a major role in the Wizards’ game plan this season. He is slated to back up 32-year-old starting center Marcin Gortat, and he is the team’s only rim protector aside from Gortat.
Listed at 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, Mahinmi is coming off a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers last year. He averaged career highs of 9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 25.6 minutes per game while starting all 71 games he appeared in.
The Wizards still have plenty of frontcourt depth; GM Ernie Grunfeld opted to stock up on big men instead of wings this summer, signing Mahinmi, Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson to complement Gortat and starting power forward Markieff Morris. However, Mahinmi was the most high-profile signing of the summer, and he was expected to play the biggest part of all the new frontcourt additions.
His absence could lead to extra minutes for Gortat, as well as Smith. It could also force Morris and Nicholson into playing some center early.
It’s perhaps worth noting, on a sad note, that the injury caps a four-part D.C. sports sweep: The Nationals were eliminated from the postseason, the Capitals lost their season opener, Jordan Reed was diagnosed with a concussion and Mahinmi tore his meniscus. All happened this past Thursday.
When it rains it pours. Or in the District’s case, hails.