Apr 4, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Ian Mahinmi (28) comes off the court during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Grizzlies 95-85. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

The Case for Ian Mahinmi

Update (7/11/12): Mahinmi was sent to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal. No dice.

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Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times once again stirred up the chatter in Bucks’ Nation with a tweet this afternoon that Milwaukee may be interested in free agent center Ian Mahinmi. Here’s Woelfel’s short but sweet report on Twitter.

I’m sure the non-NBA diehards are asking, “Who the hell is Ian Mahini”?

Mahini is a French center who spent four years playing professional ball in France before joining the NBA in 2007. He was drafted 28th overall in the 2005 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs. After three seasons with the Spurs, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010, where he averaged 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 points in 8.7 minutes per game during their championship season.

In his five years in the league, Mahinmi has shown significant improvement. He has become a good shot blocker while polishing his post game down low. Last year with the Mavericks was Mahinmi’s breakout season as an impact player. He raised his numbers across the board — albeit while playing 12 more minutes per game. In 17.5 minutes per game, he averaged 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks while shooting an efficient 64.3% from the field.

Ian is currently an unrestricted free agent. At the start of the free agency period he was contacted by seven interested teams. The one that seems to be pushing the hardest for Mahinmi is the Indiana Pacers, who had a private meeting with him.

Why should the Bucks make a play for Mahinmi? A few reasons:

1. You won’t have to break the bank for him. The estimated amount of money Manhinmi could be signed for is around $1.5-$2.5 million. He’s not looking for Ersan-type money (dare I say it). That’s pretty darn cheap for a young, serviceable center.

2. Experience and opportunity. The Bucks can offer Mahinmi something the Pacers probably can’t: playing time. Milwaukee doesn’t have an all star center to play 30 minutes a night. Ian would get good minutes behind the veteran (and assumed starter) Samuel Dalembert.

3. He’s young. At 25 years old, Mahinmi still has a few years to keep developing and gaining experience. He’s long and lanky, yet big enough to play center at 6’11” and 230 pounds.

4. He can play in a halfcourt offense. Last season, according to SynergySports, he averaged a sturdy 0.92 points per possession on post-ups. He also did well on cuts (1.08 ppp, 27% of possessions) and as a pick-and roll man (1.04 ppp, 20% of possessions). If his post offense continues to improve like it did last year, Manhinmi could become an above-average inside scorer. That would give the Bucks a whole new dimension to their run-and-gun offense.

So here’s the plan: sign Mahinmi. An ideal contract, in my opinion, would be three years with a 4th-year team option at around $2 million per year. Next season he can play behind Dalembert and gain experience while the coaching staff evaluates his talent. He’ll pick up some good minutes while giving the Bucks yet another body inside.

Best case scenario, Mahinmi makes a significant amount of improvement and is ready to be a consistent starter in 2013-14. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t improve and becomes the guy at the end of the bench. If so, his small contract would be easy to deal away. Overall, the risk is definitely worth the potential. Bringing Ian Mahinmi to Milwaukee would be a smart idea.

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