The next test for Ian Mahinmi was whether or not he could make it through a full-contact practice with the Wizards on Friday, and the backup center did just that in taking another step towards a possible return from knee procedures in December.
“We’re getting really close,” Mahinmi said. “Might need more than one five-on-five (practice) to play but this is definitely the closest I’ve been in a minute. It feels really good.”
Mahinmi, who has played just once in 49 games and had platelet-rich plasma therapy on both knees after having loose cartilage cleaned up in the left during the preseason, potentially could play before All-Star break.
The Wizards (29-20) have to determine if he’ll be able to contribute by Feb. 16. That’ll be the last chance to survey their options before playing again Feb. 24 – one day after the trade deadline.
“The reaction to everything I’ve done is much better,” Mahinmi said of how his knees feel compared to earlier in the season after he came back for a procedure in October. “I felt like seeing Dr. (James) Andrews was great. It was obviously the right move. I feel like I’m fixed.”
There should be enough practice days available to test Mahinmi’s knees. He developed tendinitis in his right knee after playing 14 minutes Nov. 26.
He’ll be gradually brought along with increases in activity and as long as there are no setbacks he could see limited action until his fitness for actual games catches up.
"It's been great watching the guys bounce back after such a rough start. It gives me that much (motivation) to be back and be part of this story," Mahinmi said. "I really want to be a part of that."
The Wizards play at home vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. They won't have a shootaround beforehand.
"We didn't go long. We had a hard, physical 20-minute segment (in practice) that he participated in," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "He looked good. ... It's a step in the right direction."