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Ian Mahinmi optimistic he can return by end of Wizards-Hawks playoff series

Ian Mahinmi optimistic he can return by end of Wizards-Hawks playoff series

Once thought to be hoping for a return in the second round, Wizards backup center Ian Mahinmi is now optimistic he can get back before the Wizards-Hawks first round playoff series is over.

With the series locked at 2-2, Mahinmi believes he is not far from coming back from the calf strain that has sidelined him since April 10 when he landed awkwardly on his left leg against the Detroit Pistons. Mahinmi has since had an MRI that revealed swelling. And step by step, he has been working on getting back.

"The plan is for me to come back in this first round. I can't tell you exactly when. But that's the main goal to me is to come back as soon as possible," he said.

Mahinmi said the final steps will include him playing full speed in practice. Lately he has been seen shooting from close range and working on post moves at practice and before games. Mahinmi admitted, though, that he's "still a little bit limited."

[RELATED: Wizards-Hawks Game 5 preview and things to watch]

Head coach Scott Brooks cautioned that Mahinmi still hasn't taken some important steps.

"He hasn't had a shootaround with us. He hasn't had a practice with us. So, he's definitely out tomorrow," Brooks said. "Do I think he can play in Game 6? I doubt it, but you never know."

That said, this is represents good news for the Wizards, who are having trouble staying out of foul trouble and could use some depth, as well as Mahinmi's defensive prowess down low against Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard.

"Progress is good. I'm a little bit ahead of schedule. I've been doing good and getting better every day. I'm on the right track," he said.

Mahinmi 30, missed 51 of the Wizards' 82 regular season games with various knee injuries dating back to preseason when he had surgery to repair a partially torn left meniscus on Oct. 15 during the preseason. He signed a four-year, $64 million free agent deal to join the Wizards in July.

[RELATED: Foul trouble continues to haunt Morris vs. Hawks]

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John Wall on what he's learned sitting out due to his Achilles injury

John Wall on what he's learned sitting out due to his Achilles injury

It has been 419 days since John Wall last played in an NBA game. That is nearly 14 months of rehabbing injuries; first from surgery to remove bone spurs in his heel, then surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles.

That has given Wall plenty of time to take a step back, watch the game of basketball and ponder what it will be like when he finally returns to the court, which right now looks like it will be in October to begin next season. During this time off, Wall has had some realizations about basketball and its role in his life. He shared them in an in-depth conversation with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the 'Wizards Talk podcast.'

"Now you understand how quickly and easily things can be taken away," Wall said.

Wall has also learned the value of patience. Since going viral with a series of dunks before games, he keeps hearing from others that he should be playing in games for the Wizards.

"Everybody was like ‘if he is doing these types of dunks, he can play.’ Well, there’s a lot more to basketball than just dunking," he said. "That’s not playing 38-to-40 minutes and then seeing how your body reacts the next day. You won’t know that until you play in a game. So, that’s why I’m not rushing the process and trying to re-injure anything. I’m just taking my time."

Wall said he has been pleased with his progress and that those videos going viral have been a reward for the time and effort he has put into his rehab. He also said he has been able to do even more behind closed doors, including a practice where he threw down a windmill dunk off his left, surgically-repaired leg.

Wall has long been a left-handed dunker because he would get more lift off his right leg due to injuries to the left. But after surgery, he is feeling better jumping off that leg.

If Wall can jump higher off his left leg, that should help him when he returns. But don't expect too many changes to the way he approaches the game.

Miller asked Wall if he would change the way he plays — if he would deviate from the same aggressive player who attacks the rim consistently.

"Nope," he said. "That’s all I know."

Wall spoke with Miller on a long list of topics including how Bradley Beal's game has changed, his respect for Davis Bertans' shooting ability and how he has dealt with the passing of his mother. You can listen to the full podcast here.

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Kevin Durant creating a documentary on why so many NBA players come from Prince George's County

Kevin Durant creating a documentary on why so many NBA players come from Prince George's County

Still recovering from a long rehab process after rupturing his Achilles in the NBA Finals last year, the way Kevin Durant is spending his time may spark the interest of basketball fans all around the DMV area. 

The Sports Business Journal reported Durant is creating a documentary focusing on the prominence of basketball stars raised in Prince George's County and is "putting the finishing touches" on the project. 

Durant's Thirty Five Ventures has the documentary, called "In the Water", listed as still in development on its website. With players like Durant, University of Maryland legend Len Bias, and Pacers all-star guard Victor Oladipo all coming from the same place, this will surely be a must-watch. 

Markelle Fultz, Jeff Green, Quinn Cook, and Ty Lawson are also some of the better known local products to make it in the NBA. The documentary will air on Showtime. 

"This is a project that really looks at the roots of why that is societally and culturally," Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza told Sports Business Journal. 

Some of Thirty Five Ventures' other projects include ESPN+'s "The Boardroom" starring Durant and Jay Williams, Still KD, and more. Co-founded with manager Rich Kleiman, the company also has a diverse portfolio that includes investments into companies like food delivery service Postmates and the sports network Overtime. 

Although Durant has repeatedly said he won't be playing for his hometown Wizards during the past few free agency periods, he has done quite a bit to shine some light on the local community's success. 

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