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Close to returning, Wizards' Mahinmi can't wait to 'be part of this story'

Close to returning, Wizards' Mahinmi can't wait to 'be part of this story'

Having missed 49 of the Wizards' 50 games this season, center Ian Mahinmi has had a lot of time to think over the last few months. He was the team's biggest acquisition in free agency, joining Washington on a four-year, $64 million deal, but so far he has been sidelined for all but 14 minutes of regular season action due to numerous knee problems.

It all began with a partially torn left meniscus in a preseason game against the Sixers, which required surgery on Oct. 15. He then returned against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 26, only to go back down with right knee tendinitis. A visit with Dr. James Andrews later and he was sidelined again for months after undergoing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment on both knees.

Now, after practicing with the Wizards for the first time on Friday, Mahinmi is almost back.

"This is definitely the closest I have been in a minute. It's really good. I'm just happy to be back," he said.

Mahinmi, 30, admits that it has been a difficult road back.

"It has been very tough, especially for a guy like me that rarely gets hurt like that. Last time I hurt myself like that was my rookie year when I was with the Spurs. That was 10 years ago. Me being out for an extended period of time like that is very challenging. I really had to take a step back and work. Be focused on my work one day at a time. Stay positive. Be there for my teammates for whatever they needed. Stay engaged and just be patient. It has been tough," he explained.

Mahinmi had never done PRP treatment before, but says "it went great." He feels very close to 100 percent and could return sometime this coming week, before the All-Star break.

When Mahinmi gets back, he will return to a Wizards team that has reached 10 games over .500 at 30-20, won seven straight games and 17 straight at home. They hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference and continue to rise by the week.

This is all after they started 2-8 and were left for dead by many in the media. Mahinmi has been on the sidelines watching it all, but now he's ready to play his part.

"It's been great. It's been great because we talked about it at the beginning of the year. We put all the stress on us, the team. We said that we can make this year great, we can also make this year one of the better years. It was on us from the start. Guys took on the challenge. It's been great watching the guys bounce back after such a rough start. It gives me that much [motivation] to get back and be part of this story. This chapter that has been opened this year, with all the ups and downs, I really want to be a part of that. I can't wait to get back on the court and be back in the mix," he said.

[RELATED: Paul Pierce: Isaiah Thomas is 'easily the best point guard' in the East]

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Moe Wagner isn't the only Wizards with a questionable golf swing

Moe Wagner isn't the only Wizards with a questionable golf swing

With the grind of the NBA season preparing to get underway, the Washington Wizards are spending some time off the court as a way to relax and have some fun. On Monday, the team headed to Top Golf to take some hacks, and we were treated to a breakdown of each player's swing.

As you can see, some like head coach Scott Brooks have a pretty smooth swing. However, the same cannot be said about others.

Take for example Moe Wagner. 

The newly acquired Wizard started off promising with a solid stance, bent knees and all. But, the wind up showed that there were clearly some quirks in his mechanics. Then, the worst thing possible happened: a missed ball. No one will really judge if the swing isn't the prettiest, considering his job is to play basketball, but to come up empty hurts.

Wagner wasn't alone in his misfortunes, however. Jordan McRae also had some trouble getting his club to connect with the ball. But, as they say, third times the charm.

As for other poor swings, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant had success hitting the ball, it just didn't look all too pretty.

For Bryant, he may be taking the concept of getting a low, solid base, quite too literally. With Bertans, the movement on his back leg followed by a quick swing is, well, interesting to say the least.

But, fear not, Washington does have a few players who at least look like they've picked up a golf club before. 

Even rookie Rui Hachimura showed off a pretty decent stroke.

While the videos did provide a good laugh, it's safe to say that most of these guys shouldn't quit their day jobs.


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What Wizards guard Chris Chiozza learned from playing with James Harden and Chris Paul

What Wizards guard Chris Chiozza learned from playing with James Harden and Chris Paul

WASHINGTON -- Point guard Chris Chiozza is hailed as a success story for the Wizards' G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, which played its first season last year as an expansion franchise. He joined the organization in training camp as an undrafted rookie and by February had played his way into an NBA contract with the Houston Rockets.

Chiozza initially signed a 10-day contract with Houston and ended up sticking around through the playoffs until late July when he was waived. That opened the door for a reunion in Washington where he landed on an Exhibit 10 contract last month.

His time in Houston was brief, but important for a variety of reasons. For one, Chiozza got some official NBA experience for the first time by appearing in seven regular season games. 

Chiozza, 23, is now back with the Wizards with a different perspective.

"It's a much more comfortable feeling now, just having that experience," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I wasn't expecting to be back here. But it's a great opportunity. I get along great with everybody here."

Chiozza is currently gunning for a roster spot with the Wizards out of training camp. With injuries to two of Washington's point guards, John Wall and Isaiah Thomas, Chiozza could earn some playing time early in the season behind projected starter Ish Smith. Chiozza's main competition is undrafted rookie Justin Robinson, who joined the Wizards on a three-year deal this summer. 

Chiozza could have his contract converted into a two-way deal, as they have an open spot there next to Garrison Mathews. That would allow Chiozza to start the season with the NBA team until G-League training camp begins on Oct. 28. Then, a 45-day limit would kick in for how much time he could spend in the NBA. Forty-five days, though, would be plenty for the Wizards to work with, as Thomas is expected to return from his left thumb injury not long after the season begins.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks believes Chiozza has a real chance to carve out a steady career in the NBA.

"I think he knows that he can play in the league. As a young player, you hope that you can be in the league but you're not quite sure if you can," Brooks said. "But with Chris, I think he knows he can play in it."

Chiozza draws confidence from having a full year of professional basketball under his belt. But he also had a unique experience playing in Houston. He got to square off every day at practice with two guards who will be in the Hall of Fame someday.

Chiozza got to see up close what makes James Harden and Chris Paul great. And he took away from that lessons of how he can elevate his own game as a point guard.

"It was crazy just to see how good of a one-on-one player [Harden] is. When you watch him on TV, you can't really tell how smart of a player he is with the reads he makes. He can read when it's his shot or it's time to kick out to a shooter. Just watching him and CP3 and how they read the defense is pretty interesting," Chiozza said.

"When I was growing up, [Paul] was my favorite point guard. Just being around him and going to his camps and stuff and then being on his team, it was crazy."

Chiozza said practicing with Paul is a different experience than in games where he is more conservative with his ball-handling and passing. In practice, Paul may surprise you by passing the ball through a big man's legs or with dribble combinations he doesn't allows deploy. Chiozza calls them "pick-up moves."

Chiozza saw the finer details of what makes two great guards the players they are. As he aims to find a niche in the NBA, that can only help his cause.