Due to added depth to the Wizards' roster this preseason, center Daniel Ochefu became the first casualty as Washington continues to narrow down its roster ahead of opening night against the Sixers next week. Ochefu was waived by the team on Monday, allowing the Wizards to shift their focus to the final spot, which is expected to go to one of two veteran guards between Carrick Felix and Donald Sloan.
Ochefu, 23, now finds himself at a crossroads. After going undrafted last summer out of Villanova, Ochefu caught on with the Wizards and signed as a free agent. He spent the entire season at the NBA level, in part because of Ian Mahinmi missing most of the year due to injury. Now Mahinmi is healthy and there just isn't much room behind him.
Ochefu's locker was right next to Mahinmi's at Capital One Arena and the two had grown close over the past calendar year. Mahinmi offered some heartfelt advice to Ochefu when asked about the move on the Wizards Tipoff podcast this week:
"D.O. is a great guy. I treat him as a little brother. I took him out a lot of times. He's one of the guys I kept in touch with [in the summer]. Obviously, when I heard the news I texted him right away. This is the nature of our league. This is the nature of our business. Decisions like that have to be made. I told him to not take anything personally. Don't get into that negative mindset of 'I did everything I could for this team, I can't believe it.' It's not like that. Obviously, it's a tough decision for the Wizards and it's a tough time for D.O. But I told him don't get into that," Mahinmi said.
"Now it's all about how you're going to bounce back. You have to keep a positive mindset and more importantly, you've gotta get better. Whatever you did is good, but not good enough, so you've gotta work more. You've gotta find different things to do to get yourself better and get yourself ready for that next opportunity. So, I told him that 'it's going to be you.' Throughout careers, we are all going to have stuff like that and times like that. It's how you bounce back."
[RELATED: MAC'S INJURY HITS CLOSE TO HOME FOR FRAZIER]
Mahinmi's career began as a first round pick and he's now a nine-year NBA veteran. But he has had tough times along the way, including when he was Ochefu's age of 23.
He has shared his story with Ochefu in hopes it can help.
"I was with the Spurs for three years and at some point they have to pick up my fourth year option. They didn't pick it up. I felt like I had done everything I was supposed to. I played well in the minutes that [Gregg Popovich] gave me. I was on a veteran team. I was like 'man, what could I have done better?' They sent me to the D-League and I did everything I could. I played very well in the D-League. I took the team to the championship game. I was like 'man, it's still not enough. What do you guys want me to do?' This was kind of a tough blow, but just like D.O., I had to look at myself. It was like 'alright, man, you weren't good enough and you have to do better.' I did that and I got a chance with the Mavericks and I bounced back. I never looked back after that," Mahinmi said.
Mahinmi also talked about himself on the podcast. He discussed the early returns of his offseason training program in which he lost 10 pounds and revamped his diet. Listen to the full episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!