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Wizards' Ian Mahinmi takes major step in rehab: 'I feel like I'm fixed'

Wizards' Ian Mahinmi takes major step in rehab: 'I feel like I'm fixed'

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.”

[RELATED: Ian Mahinmi goes through Wizards shootaround for 1st time since Nov.]

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."

[RELATED: Will the Wizards make a big move at the trade deadline?]

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Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Rui Hachimura falls to Devin Booker in NBA 2K Players Tournament

Coming off a nail-biting win over Donovan Mitchell in the first round, Rui Hachimura lost to Suns star Devin Booker in the quarterfinals of the NBA 2K Players Tournament Thursday night. 

The Wizards' rookie forward played with the Clippers, while Booker went with the Mavericks. Not only did Hachimura have the more talented team in this matchup, but it looked like he had a coach sitting near him the whole time too. 

Hachimura's biggest challenge in this one was finding easy points against Booker's defense. Booker did a good job using his center to close down driving lanes while leaving Hachimura's big men wide open in the corner.

The Clippers bigs aren't great outside shooters, so outside of a few surprising makes from Montrezl Harrell, it was a rough night offensively. Hachimura tried to go with a small-ball lineup with Marcus Morris at the center spot, but then he started giving up way too many offensive rebounds. 

On the flip side when Hachimura tried to do the same thing to Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber were able to knock those shots down. That left the door open for Luka Doncic to get open looks and that's how Booker eventually pulled away in the second half. 

It was a good run for Hachimura in the tournament. He knocked off the four-seed in Mitchell and delivered one of the more memorable moments of the first round. He just ran into a buzzsaw in Booker, who may have a decent chance to win the whole thing. 

The semifinals and finals of the 2K Players Tournament will begin on Saturday. 

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GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

GM Tommy Sheppard says Wizards plan to retain Shabazz Napier in free agency

With the NBA season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the extra free time has given teams an opportunity to reflect on the first 64 games of the 2019-20 campaign. 

Whichever direction the league decides to go with returning to play, the 2020 NBA draft and free agency period loom large once the season is over. For the Wizards, they have a pair of key players set to hit the open market: Davis Bertans and Shabazz Napier. 

John Wall's return significantly elevates expectations surrounding the Wizards next season and will make the team's offseason decision-making process that much more important. In the case of Napier and Bertans, Washington's general manager Tommy Sheppard talked highly of both in a Q&A with Dave Johnson Thursday

"I think with [Napier and Bertans], when we acquired them not as rentals we acquired them to stay here," Sheppard said. "I think the players that we acquired, they're here to show that they can be here for the future. With Davis and Shabazz, they showed enough to us that certainly we would love to retain them. We plan to."

What Sheppard had to say about Bertans isn't necessarily new. He maintained the stance all year that the Wizards intended to keep Bertans this summer and held true to it when Washington reportedly turned down offers including first-round picks at the trade deadline. 

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Napier's future with the team, on the other hand, has not been talked about publicly by someone like Sheppard. The Wizards acquired him from the Nuggets in exchange for Jordan McRae at the trade deadline and the six-year veteran appeared in 15 games for Washington before the season was suspended. 

Napier started eight games and averaged 12.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 43.1% from the field and 38.1% from three. Based on production alone, it's not that surprising Sheppard wants to bring the former UConn star back. 

However, if the Wizards can re-sign Napier this summer, they'd have quite a lot of viable point guards on their roster going into next season. Wall will be back and Ish Smith will be in the final year of his two-year contract.

Napier would figure to be either the third point guard or Washington's backup shooting guard depending on how you look at things. Then you have to ask how comfortable you are with Napier potentially taking minutes away from Jerome Robinson and ball-handling opportunities from Troy Brown Jr., both young wings the Wizards need to take a step forward next year. 

But shooting and playmaking are at a premium in the NBA today, and as defensively challenged as an Ish Smith-Shabazz Napier backcourt would be off the bench, there's no doubt Washington's second unit would be able to put up a ton of points. 

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