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Morning tip: Big void remains until Ian Mahinmi is able to return to Wizards

Morning tip: Big void remains until Ian Mahinmi is able to return to Wizards

The moment Ian Mahinmi had his second look at his right knee, he knew something wasn't right beyond just soreness. The Wizards have managed to almost dig themselves out of hole without him and Marcin Gortat logging a career-high in minutes with no true experienced center as his backup.

It'll be at least six weeks until relief comes. The Wizards announced Tuesday that Mahinmi not only would get a platelet-rich plasma procedure on the right knee but the surgicially left one, too, that initially put him on the shelf during the preseason. Mahinmi additionally sustained a bone bruise on the left one and hasn't been able to practice fully.  

Jason Smith can play there but he's more of a face-up four who can play the position based on the matchup. He's not a good matchup for mobile, athletic centers who can play away from the rim. Andrew Nicholson is a forward who is the backup to power forward Markieff Morris and is out of position in the middle. Daniel Ochefu could be the best option in the long run, but the undrafted rookie didn't have much seasoning in real-time action until recently. He's not a threat on the offensive end.

"I think it’s fine," said Bradley Beal after he led the Wizards with 22 points in a 107-105 loss at the Indiana Pacers on Monday. "Marcin is playing great. Daniel is stepping in as a rookie and giving us solid minutes. We’ve still got plenty of bigs. Do we miss Ian? For sure. But we’ve been playing all year without him. It’s not like we’re going to use it as an excuse. We’ve just got to work with what we’ve got. We’ve had success with big lineups and small lineups. It doesn’t matter, just do what it takes to win."

Gortat, averaging a career-high 35.8 minutes, has posted 15 double-doubles after 21 points and 13 rebounds in Indiana. His 11.8 rebounds are a career-high. 

Mahinmi, however, was supposed to fill the void left when Gortat leaves the floor. Last season, the Wizards used oft-injured Nene in that role to good effect. He left for a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets for $3 million and has appeared in 23 games -- 22 more than Mahinmi -- and is averaging 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 16.8 minutes. Mahinmi, who is younger at 30 and being more mobile would be a better pick-and-roll defender, is a $64 million commitment over four years for Washington.

The size and athleticism of Mahinmi is striking when he's healthy. He started 71 games for the Pacers last season, averaging career-highs of 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in only 25.6 minutes per game. He was Tyson Chandler's primary backup with the Dallas Mavericks, where he was a role player on the 2011 NBA championship team. 

A big who can step out to contain the ball and cover the rim simultaneously is a rare find. That's what Chandler did so well for the Mavericks which allowed them to contain and limit elite players such as Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James en route to that title. That coverage has been a major weakeness for the Wizards in recent years, and president Ernie Grunfeld sought to tighten up that area. 

The problem the Wizards have beyond Mahinmi's absence is fewer options to bolster the bench via trade before the deadline which is two months away. No one is going to deal for Mahinmi's contract while injured and there's not a huge market for the healthy pieces they do have availalble outside of Kelly Oubre. Given how he's blossoming and Otto Porter's status as a likely restricted free agent (Wizards have to make him a qualifying offer first), it's difficult to see they'd part ways with the first-round pick.

John Wall knows what the Wizards are missing without Mahinmi. 

"You see the presence that he brings to the team when you play against him. You’ve seen what he’s done in the past," Wall said. "He’s another big that can run the floor. He does a great job of screening, blocking shots and protecting the paint. Just his vet presence, being in the locker room and talking. And being an athletic big that can catch lobs and finish plays around the basket for us, we know what he can do. He would have been a great piece to have right now in the beginning of the season. We’ve only had him for one game and he kind of wasn’t in there for very long. He’s doing the best he can in fighting, rehabbing and trying to get back healthy."

Coach Scott Brooks is going to have to continue to mix and match his lineups to compensate. Small-ball has worked in the short-term, but when opponents adjust -- and they will after seeing enough on film to prepare -- will determine how long they can stick with it.

MORE WIZARDS: CHANGES TO NBA ALL-STAR VOTING COULD HELP WIZARDS

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NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

NBA draft lottery 2020 to be held virtually amid coronavirus pandemic

The NBA offseason arrives later this week and will speed up soon not long after with the Aug. 20 draft lottery, which will be held virtually this year.

The news it is being held virtually, which was first reported by the Athletic, was a fairly obvious expectation. All 14 teams participating will do so remotely via a video feed. That's the way many events are being held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wizards have the ninth-best odds in this year's lottery. That gives them a 4.5 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 20.2 chance to select in the top four.

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The top eight teams in the lottery are the Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. The Warriors, Cavs and Timberwolves are tied for the best odds to get the No. 1 pick.

There is no consensus top player in this draft. Mock drafts have rotated through a few players at the top. The big names include James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball.

The Wizards will need some luck to move up and have a chance to get one of them.

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Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan competes in White Marlin Open in Ocean City for second consecutive year

Michael Jordan has proven time and time again that no opponent is too challenging for him.

Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Isaias, Jordan’s love for competition prevailed as he was spotted in Ocean City, Md. this past weekend competing in the White Marlin Open, a deep-sea fishing competition, for the second consecutive year. 

If basketball, football, baseball and golf weren’t enough, the six-time NBA champion has now become a regular competitor in the world’s largest billfish tournament. After he entered the competition in 2019, he was the weekend’s star even without the winning catch.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 competition, rumors began to circulate about whether the sports icon would appear on the eastern shore again. When his plane was spotted at Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport last week and his boat Catch 23 was registered, excitement began to grow from fans and fellow anglers.

In the competition’s 47th year, Jordan’s boat was spotted as one of 433 to enter the competition. His is an 80-foot Viking, which displays the print matching his Air Jordan 3 sneakers that he wore during the 1998 NBA All-Star game.

The tournament features competitions in fishing for tuna, dolphins, blue marlins, wahoos, sharks and white marlins. Due to the effects of the hurricane, the competition spanned from Aug. 3-9, an extension from its normal five days. This year, the White Marlin Open set a record for the most money ever awarded with a collective $6.8 million distributed to the winners.

The top $1.85 million prize went to Brandon Golueke from Ocean City for a 97-pound white marlin. The fish was the third largest white marlin in competition history.

While Jordan and his Catch 23 crew were unable to bring home the top prize again this year, he has proven he has a promising future in angling. Back in June, his boat brought in a 442.3-pound marlin on the second day of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C., which earned fifth place that day and ninth place in the tournament overall. 

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