A couple of days before Christmas, Orlando Magic centre Nikola Vucevic went down with a fractured metacarpal bone in his left hand, and will miss six to eight weeks of action.
Vucevic had been in the middle of possibly the best season of his career, finally turning the long two-point jump shots he has always taken and turning them into three-pointers, thereby significantly improving his offensive efficiency as he averaged 17.4 points per game on a 55.7% true shooting percentage, while also passing for a 19.0% assist rate. The latter two numbers are career-high marks, and Vucevic has become a versatile and important half-court offensive option.
In the starting spot that he has had to vacate has moved Bismack Biyombo, who is the opposite of that. With arms that stretch from about here to Pontefract, but with a much lower skill level with the ball, Biyombo’s role on the current Magic team and on all his prior teams is to defend the paint, defend the perimeter as best he can, and clear the glass.
Initially, Biyombo began this year poorly. While his shot blocking threat is legitimate and his rebounding rate always good, his offensive abilities are so limited that pairing him with other limited offensive players is a problem. A player who can neither post, shoot nor act a roll man with any consistency, defences leave Biyombo, and if the offensive players around him are also limited, the entire unit has nothing. Despite the fact that Orlando as a whole started the season as a surprisingly dynamic offensive unit, Biyombo’s October offensive rating was a mere 85. For comparison’s sake, Vucevic’s was 116.
Of late, though, Biyombo has been good. He has moved into the starting line-up without Vooch, and as a starter averages 8.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in only 28.2 minutes per game. He suddenly looks strong, confident, agile, and precisely aware of the role he is there to fill. He is even shooting 85.7% from the free throw line as a starter, which is probably an anomaly but a very welcome one.
Biyombo’s contract is nonetheless enormous. Signing a four-year contract for exactly $17 million in each season, he is still being paid a huge amount per annum for a player who averages 4.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on the year, who plays only one position, and who cannot pair with the player he backs up, who is too good for him to surpass.
However, if he can play like this when needed, the player is still useful despite the size of the contract, and the deal itself becomes redeemable. This is not the first good stretch of Biyombo’s career, and nor ought it be the last. This made us think – which other albatrossian contracts out there might also have a chance at being redeemable?
Below, we look at some of the league’s bigger deals that still have significant time left to run, yet to which the players signed are doing little.
Atlanta – Miles Plumlee, centre: three years, $37.5 million remaining
Atlanta has Miles Plumlee and his contract on their books right now on account of its inclusion being necessary to make the finances of the Dwight Howard to Charlotte deal work. And Howard did not have enough suitors for the Hawks to be picky about this.
At the time of writing, Plumlee is actually a starter for the Hawks. He has been for the last 11 games, and for 16 out of the last 17. He became one by default when both impressive rookie John Collins and outside-chance Most Improved Player candidate DeWayne Dedmon both got hurt at the same time, as did young veteran stretch four/five hybrid Mike Muscala. At that point, someone had to man the middle.
Even then, however, former two-way contract player Tyler Cavanaugh has arguably outshined Plumlee. Whereas Plumlee is a classic paint centre who leaves the paint only to screen, never shoots anything longer than a foul shot, who tries to clear the glass and fouls anyone attacking the rim at the other end, Cavanaugh is a stretch-five who spots up, runs dribble hand-offs and adds spacing to the team’s offence, while just about rebounding enough to mask his lack of athleticism. Plumlee isn’t doing enough in his role (4.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, 18.5 minutes per game) to remove this doubt. And while Plumlee costs $12.5 million a year, Cavanaugh costs merely the minimum.
Back with both the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, and very briefly with the Indiana Pacers before them, Plumlee showed he could be somewhat productive as a rebounder, shot-blocker and dunker if he was given enough minutes. The 2015-16 season that earned him the $50 million contract he is now receiving was not a complete fluke. It was, however, seemingly a thing of the past. The league calls for more Tyler Cavanaugh’s than it does Miles Plumlees these days, and even with a gift of an opportunity with so many injuries in front of him, Plumlee is not showing enough to be a rotation player any longer.
Brooklyn – Allen Crabbe, shooting guard: three years, $56,332,500 remaining
As with Plumlee above, and unlike many others upcoming on this list, Crabbe too is actually starting for his team, and has had some moments, moreso than Plumlee. He has started 11 games in a row, 17 out of the last 18, and is averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a starter.
That said, Crabbe is only starting due to circumstances. D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin are both out with long-term injuries, while Caris LeVert, who has really improved of late filling in as a point guard option, only comes off the bench due to the need for someone to provide bench minutes so that point guard Spencer Dinwiddie can rest. It could also be said, with plenty of evidence, that backup swing man Joe Harris is outplaying Crabbe – whereas Crabbe is shooting 37.7% from the field and posting a 103 offensive rating contentedly just casting up the threes, Harris is posting 112 on a 60.0% true shooting percentage, trying and succeeding at working off the dribble and being a better passing option to boot.
When everyone is healthy, then, Crabbe might be the sixth guard on the team. All this while earning nearly $19 million per year.
At least in being given the opportunity to play right now, and in having the NBA’s most currently desired NBA skill, Crabbe theoretically has the opportunity to convince someone to take it up. It worked once before, after all – Crabbe moved from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Brooklyn Nets last summer in exchange only for the dead salary of Andrew Nicholson. But to be available essentially for free like that speaks to a low trade value, and his play this year has not increased it any.
Brooklyn – Timofey Mozgov, centre: three years, $48 million remaining
Another one of the can’t-sign-free-agents-so-might-as-well-take-on-big-deals acquisitions of the Nets this past summer, along with Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll (whose play has been suitably resurgent to spare him from this list), Mozgov was given 14 starts at the beginning of the year but did nothing with them. He is now out of the rotation altogether.
Always slow, Mozgov is really slow now, at odds with the speed and athleticism of the modern NBA game, and attempts to become a corner three-point shooter under Atkinson have been both unsuccessful and fruitless. After all, if you want a corner shooter as a five-man, get one who can run backwards quicker. Mozgov can still score with some paint touches, but he was never a great rebounder due to his slow feet making it difficult to rebound outside of his area, and as the feet have gotten slower, so have the rotations, taking away his shotblocking. He has also become a massive turnover liability, easy to strip and with increasingly moving screens.
It seems as though it would be fair to say that no one will ever trade for Timofey Mozgov again as a player.
Charlotte: Marvin Williams, power forward: three years, $42,262,500 remaining
Despite being by far and away their best player, Kemba Walker is only the Hornets’ sixth most expensive. This is in part due to the contract of Williams, re-signed last summer to a four year, $54,512,500 contract despite being 30 years old at the time of signing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it hasn’t worked out.
Paid like an above-average starter at a time when he wasn’t one and at an age that he was never going to become one, Williams has regressed this year as the contract continues to grow, and will surely continue to regress as the contract gets even bigger. The three-point shooting is up to 42.9%, which is healthy, but Williams is not creating them, just standing in the corners and the left wing and waiting for the ball. All but one of his threes have been assisted, and he hasn’t the speed in his cuts to get open too easily or too often. Indeed, all but 20 of his makes of any kind of shot have been assisted. Williams is merely a finisher offensively, and not an especially athletic one, who does not stand out defensively and who rebounds far below average for his position.
Charlotte needs to move some salary around and switch up an often turgid offence, and perhaps some good salesmanship on Williams and his situation might help to do so. Maybe, convincing a suitor that Williams would play up to the contract on a better offensive team with more spacing and creators would redeem some trade value for him. Or maybe they will have to settle for trading him for a slightly less expensive entry on this list.
Cleveland: J.R. Smith, shooting guard: three years, $44.16 million remaining
In the past fortnight, the Houston Rockets have signed NBA veteran wing man Gerald Green to their team, a man who was sitting at home after going unsigned this summer despite his fairly significant role in the Celtics’s playoff run last season. Green has played six games and averaged 16.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in only 25.2 minutes per game, shooting as often as he can from outside and making 51.0% of them on 8.2 attempts per game. He has been simply excellent. And yet it is the resurgence of Gerald Green that speaks to the problem with Smith.
Green is doing the same role as J.R. Smith, but he is doing it for far less money, and, most pointedly, he is doing it better. The days of Smith working off the dribble and finishing at the rim have gone, as has much of the transition game. At this point in his career, Smith is an athletic-looking-but-not-doing-much-athletically wingman that is purely a three-point shooter, and, in accordance with the way he has always played, the 5.0 three-point attempts per game that he attempts are often not especially easy three-point looks either.
Smith doesn’t do the work to create space to shoot as someone like his team-mate Kyle Korver does, instead just catching and casting them up sometimes. He is a much better shooter below the break than above it, but doesn’t cut hard or regularly enough to get to the corners. Smith instead prefers the wing 27-footers, often with a hand in his face. And as useful as they can be in bogged-down possessions, they do not go in all that often. Smith is a good shooter and a maker of bad shots, but he would be far better if he did himself a favour and got open more often. It has not happened and it surely now never will.
From a trade value point of view, Smith does at least have a significant unguaranteed portion of his final season’s salary, with only $3.87 million of $15.68 million guaranteed in 2019/20. The Cavaliers will have a useful trade asset next season, then – although the current Collective Bargaining Agreement somewhat limits the usefulness of unguaranteed contracts in trades by making their outgoing trade number equal to the amount of guarantee rather than the amount of overall compensation, that does not affect the usefulness of the guarantee if they are traded before the season with the unguaranteed portion begins. However, this is only useful to a recipient team if they are trading away more than $3.87 million of salary they no longer want – otherwise, it is no saving at all. Smith’s only value in a trade is as filler or as a money-saver, not as a player.
And with LeBron James’s free agency coming around once again, Cleveland might not be able to wait that long to reap these potential benefits anyway.
Denver – Kenneth Faried, power forward: two years, $26,685,393 remaining
Although he has always been an effective player for them, Faried is seemingly no longer wanted by the only NBA team he has ever known.
The Nuggets brought in Paul Millsap this summer on an expensive three-year deal to be their new starting power forward, and also brought in Trey Lyles to back him up in a deal with the Utah Jazz that, with all due respect to the excellent Lyles, they might want to have another crack at, considering they gave up the draft rights to the absolutely fantastic Donovan Mitchell in the process. The other player acquired in that deal, rookie combo-forward Tyler Lydon is also a power forward option, while Juan Hernangomez can also play the position, Darrell Arthur can pretty much only play the position, and backup centre Mason Plumlee has frequently been put there to pair with Nikola Jokic as well in a move that has gone surprisingly well.
Basically, the Nuggets do not need as many power forwards as they have. And along with Arthur, Faried is proving to be the odd man out.
When Millsap went down, Faried initially took on the same sort of role he has done for seven years, with intermittent starting interspersed with key bench minutes. And in the sense that he put up roughly the same kind of numbers that he always has, Faried responded, recording 11.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in his seven starts of the year.
However, the fact that Faried did the same as he ever has is kind of the problem. He may not have gotten any worse, but Manimal’s game has barely changed since entering the league. Faried averaged 14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 blocks per game on 11.0 field goal and 4.3 free throw attempts per 36 minutes without making any threes in his second year in the league; this season, five years later, those numbers are nigh-on identical at 15.1/11.7/1.5/1.1/10.8/4.2, still with no threes. Faried never learned to post consistently, never learned to shoot consistently, and never stopped giving up the perimeter to chase defensive rebounds. He lost his role because he didn’t keep improving at it.
On the plus side, the player who puts up those per 36 minutes is still a good player, warts and all, and Faried’s contract is a year shorter than most others on this list. He probably has trade value still. It is however more of a J.R-Smith-plus-two-second-rounders type of trade value than it once would have been.
Houston – Ryan Anderson, Houston Rockets: three years, $61,264,636 remaining
Anderson starts every game for the Rockets as a power forward still, but offers increasingly little on the court. The 2-9 field goal shooting, 1-6 three-point shooting performances are becoming more regular and less anomalous.
On the season, Anderson is attempting a career-low 8.3 shots per game, 72% of which are from three-point range, on a by-far career-low 14.9% usage rate. The ability to drive the ball and score with post touches he had to diversify his game in his younger days has gone, and the simple catch-and-shoot is all that remains. The rebounding rate of his youth has gone, too, and while a 11.3% total rebounding percentage is up on last year’s shooting guard-like 8.5%, it is not impressive. The defence, meanwhile, was never there.
Given the nature of his game and the team he is on, Anderson will likely never have more value to any team other than the one he is currently on. But cheaper stretch fours are available, and only the contract is keeping him the gig. If Houston still intend to shift Anderson’s contract with a view to opening up financial flexibility and/or cap room in future summers, then the cost of doing so will keep getting higher even as the contract gets shorter, unless Anderson can reverse this decline.
L.A. Lakers – Luol Deng, small forward: three years, $54 million remaining
It is tough to admit about Britain’s greatest ever NBA player, but Luol’s NBA career has hit a brick wall at the moment.
Despite being signed to a four year, $72 million contract as recently as last summer, and being a starter for almost all of last season, Luol has played only one game and 13 minutes thus far this season, and it is is not because he is injured. Rather, he is simply unused.
Rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma shines offensively at the forward spot, as does former #2 overall pick Brandon Ingram, who is amongst the league leaders in points off drives. Larry Nance Jr meanwhile is the backup utility man, and with a combined age of only 67, the three have combined to shut Luol out. In his prime, Deng’s game was a mixture of Ingram and Nance, but last year he looked to have lost much of that which made him such a good player previously.
The current situation is that the Lakers want to sign stars via free agency next summer, and the simple reality is that Deng’s contract is getting in the way of that. L.A. needs and wants to shift this contract, just as they did Mozgov’s above, but considering that shifting Mozgov’s deal cost them D’Angelo Russell, they will need to get creative to do so to move Luol’s deal without taking away another supposedly key piece from a supposed core.
It seems inevitable that something will be done, and maybe something that benefits Deng personally. Something like a three-way deal in which the Lakers get Nikola Mirotic and Chicago gets Deng, Larry Nance, Ivica Zubac and a pick from the Lakers (or, ideally, sending Mirotic on in a three-way deal to a contender) may be the way out of purgatory for Deng, allowing him rebuild some value as a veteran bench presence rather than simply as a contract.
But as of right now, purgatory is where he is.
Memphis – Chandler Parsons, small forward: three years, $72,321,773 remaining
Parsons began the year on a strict minutes restriction and being held out of at least game of every set of back-to-backs the Grizzlies had. He didn’t like it, but it was all for a reason – to try and salvage a knee that had rendered his first season with the team as a complete nothing of a year, as well as a maximum value contract that could go down as one of the worst of all time
It does not seem to have really worked. Chandler has played in only 26 of the Grizzlies’ 39 games, and has missed several due to continued knee soreness, including the last four.
This, clearly, is bad. When he has played, he has managed 8.8 points, 2.8 assists and 2.0 assists in his 21 minutes per contest, shooting 48.6% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range for a 14.6 PER. These are good numbers if you are James Ennis, and, certainly, it is all much better than last year. But it is not nearly enough at that salary, and with the knee seemingly a massive issue from here on it, nor is it foreseeable that it ever will be.
Contracts normally get more tradeable as they get shorter, and a determined-enough team can move any contract as long as there are less than two years of it left to go. Even Gilbert Arenas’s deal once got moved. On this one, however, Memphis may just have to take the L.
New Orleans – Solomon Hill, small forward: three years, $38,248,244 remaining
Hill has yet to take the court this season due to injury, and still has a while to go yet until he returns. However, looking at his body of work last season as a Pelican is sufficient for him to be on this list.
In college, and with the Indiana Pacers in his first three seasons of NBA play, Hill was a little things play. He drove a bit, sometimes, never explosively but always with some degree of poise. He spotted up, sometimes, never hugely efficiently but occasionally usefully as a fifth option scorer. He passed off when he had nothing, sometimes incisively, albeit with quite a few bad ones thrown in. He cleared the class quite well for his position. And, more than anything, he defended the slower players at his position pretty effectively.
None of that however made for a $13 million per year player. $3 million would have been closer. And now, combined with injuries, the contract looks even more egregious. New Orleans are finding they can get pretty much the same as what they got from Hill in the $2 million per annum contract of Darius Miller, and are also finding that the three-guard line-up of Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore is scoring better than any line-up with Hill in it ever has. They could still use some defence and forward depth, but not at this price unless they have to.
(They might have to.)
New Orleans – Omer Asik, centre: three years, $33,859,548 remaining
There was a time that Omer Asik was a defensive wall on the interior. Although his offensive abilities (save for a better-than-advertised ability to pass as a screener) were very limited, Asik’s rebounding rate was phenomenal, his timing was excellent, and his ability to go straight up and contest in the paint without fouling was eye-opening. Tom Thibodeau and his system certainly got the best out of Asik.
Things started well for him upon his move to Houston, too. Aside from the random disappearance in his shotblocking, Asik made his name as an elite rebounder and capable two-handed dunk finisher, and at one point averaged a double-double for the season. However, things have slowly declined over time, mostly due to injuries and illness. Asik has never had a chance to develop as a player; indeed, he has markedly regressed.
Now in New Orleans, Asik has played only 78 minutes all season. He missed the start of the year through a mystery illness that also cost him much of last year, and that left him pale, thin and gaunt. And although he has now returned to sufficient health to again be an NBA player, the repeated absences and ill-health flanked by the evolution of the league around him has seen him not develop as a player, regress in terms of his ability, timing, strength and stamina, and have his role become less useful as the game has changed around him.
Being paid less than the others on this list could in theory give Asik a greater chance at redemption. But it has been three years since he was a good NBA player, three years since he has been properly healthy, and three years since he has been relevant. It is a long road back and there is no evidence that he is on it.
New York – Joakim Noah, centre: three years, $55.59 million remaining
Noah was yet another big veteran contract signing in the summer of 2016, signing a four year, $72 million contract with the Knicks with the idea being that his passing skill would help operate the Triange Offence that they were still forcefully betrothed to at that time.
The Triangle, however, has now gone. So has the person who brought him in, Phil Jackson. So too has the elitenss of Noah’s mobility and athleticism, the very things that make his quirky style of play ever work in the first place. And brought in instead have been three better centres.
Enes Kanter arrived as a part of the Carmelo Anthony deal, and while he was mostly included for the sake of his contract, he is now playing the best basketball of his life. Kyle O’Quinn is one of the league’s best backup bigs on one of the league’s best contracts, and Willy Hernangomez is one of the team’s better prospects. Yet even Willy cannot get a minute of court time due to the presence of Kanter and O’Quinn in front of him. Noah, then, definitely cannot.
On the season to date, Noah has played six games and 36 minutes only. He has lost his free-throw stroke, the couple of inches of lift that saw him at least occasionally make a lay-up, the ability to block penetrating guard’s layups and the Earthball jump shot he occasionally made. He also seems to have lost the ball-handling ability that was once so key to his unconventional success. Noah can still board and hustle, but as good as he once was, he is now very surplus to requirements on his team. If he is to be traded, it will surely only be for another player on this list.
Phoenix – Brandon Knight, shooting guard: three years, $43,893,750 remaining
Unfortunately, Brandon Knight’s time in Phoenix has been mostly a washout. Acquired by the Suns for a first round pick they have still not yet conveyed, as well as Miles Plumlee above, Knight has almost always been the odd man out in the Suns’ guard rotation, and he has not had the opportunity to ever truly earn his spot due to repeated injuries.
Right now, Knight is missing the entire season with an ACL injury. This comes after playing only 54 games last season, only 52 games in the season before that, and in only 11 games in his part-season audition for the Suns after being acquired at the 2015 trade deadline. In his time in Arizona, Knight has played in as-near-as-is only half of Phoenix’s games.
When he has played, Knight has continued to look stuck between positions. Someone like Jason Terry was similarly stuck between positions during the prime of his career, but he countered by defending as best he could, landing on the right team at the right time, playing a high IQ game and shooting his way out of the problem. Knight does not shoot as well as that, nor play as smartly as that, lost his spot, and floundered getting it back. Combining that with injuries is a potent cocktail.
On talent alone, and with age on his side, Knight has one of the better chances of redemption of any player on this list. But this really needed to be the bounce-back year. And yet with the serious injury, all it’s been is the worst of the lot.
Portland – Evan Turner, small forward: three years, $53,606,557 remaining
In the summer of 2016, the Portland Trail Blazers had some cap space they could not keep. C.J. McCollum would need a sizeable extension that would kick in the following season, so the cap space could not be sat on; it was either use it or lose it. The Blazers thus used it on Evan Turner. And they probably shouldn’t have.
We looked at Turner recently here at GiveMeSport, and explored the decision the team had to make at small forward between him and Mo Harkless. We speculated as to whether offensive perception biased opinions of defensive impact, and postulated that even though Evan Turner looked as though he was more useful on the court, especially offensively, there was little evidence that he actually was.
What we didn’t look at was the money. Turner has nearly the double amount outstanding to him that Harkless does (three years, $32,511,235), and he certainly is not nearly twice the player. There is no reason to keep Turner other than the fact that it might be impossible to move him.
Although it is neither immediately obvious nor openly reported who it was, the Blazers presumably had to outbid another suitor in order to give Turner that much money. Maybe, then, there is another team out there that sees quite a lot in him, and that would take him on even at this price. Or, given that Turner’s signing was one of the very first ones announced on the first day of free agency, maybe they didn’t, and there is no other potential suitor. That would make this contract an even bigger problem.
Portland: Meyers Leonard, centre: three years, $31,786,516 remaining
Another one of the Blazers’ excess spends in 2016, Leonard has some amazingly favourable advanced statistics on his side in 2017/18. By virtue of his 27-45 shooting on the season, including 7-13 from three-point range, Leonard has a 69.0% true shooting percentage, a 19.6 PER, an offensive rating of a whopping 134, and a net rating of +29. Those are among the greatest numbers in NBA history. Which means of course that they are anomalies.
Leonard is a limited player in an increasingly limited role – he was drafted (and at one point a starter) on account of his potential as a stretch five, but he has lost that role and his spot in the rotation to 2017 first round pick Zach Collins, who already looks more engaged and able defensively than Leonard ever has. Leonard has played only 136 minutes this season, hence the anomalies, and is the fourth bench big option behind Collins, Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh.
It would be one thing if Leonard was actually a stretch big. However, despite his intent to be a shooter, there are not the results there that would justify it. The 42.0% three-point shooting of his third season in the league alluded to his potential in this area, but it has only gone down since then, as has the rebounding and the few post-up touches. At this point, Leonard is wasted potential without the opportunity to redeem himself.
The rumour at the time of the 2017 draft was that Portland would attach one of their multiple first-round picks to Leonard as an incentive for some team – supposedly, Brooklyn – to take on his contract. It appears as though this is still going to be the only way someone will.
Washington: Ian Mahinmi, centre: three years, $48,055,846 remaining
Mahinmi’s is perhaps the situation most like Biyombo’s. He too is the long-armed defensive-minded backup centre signed to an enormous contract by an Eastern Conference team in the summer of 2016. The single biggest difference between the two situations is that Mahinmi has shown little sign of hope that he will ever get near to the lofty expectations that this contract immediately lumbered him with.
On the season thus far, Mahinmi is averaging 3.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.4 blocks and 3.0 fouls per game per game. At one point, he had more fouls (57) than points (56). He also averages 1.3 turnovers per game despite almost never taking a dribble. All this for $16 million per season.
Apart from an increase in fouls and a somewhat-inexplicable (it is not as though he is especially good at this area of the game) increase in his assist rates, this is basically the same Ian Mahinmi that came off the bench for the Indiana Pacers between 2012 and 2014. The difference is the extremely sizeable contract, one so big that the Wizards are looking at a lot of luxury tax payments without making necessary upgrades to their team. They would be capped out but flexible within Mahinmi. With him, they’re pretty handcuffed.
There is no real use for Mahinmi offensively. He cannot play any useful role in the high pick-and-roll. He sets moving screens while trying to. He misses a lot of lay-ups. He loses the ball in any kind of traffic. He cannot spot up, he cannot post up, and he cannot catch the ball cleanly to finish near the rim off of guard penetration. Defensively, quicker opponents can get by him, as injuries have limited his speed and mobility, hence all the fouls. And he doesn’t even block out very well.
Mahinmi’s acquisition was supposed to make Marcin Gortat expendable. That hasn’t happened, though, and nor will it. Indeed, despite his declining defence, Gortat is perhaps more valuable than ever. The prognosis for Mahinmi in Washington looks slim, and another 18 months of trying to make him in a bench defensive presence before utilising the stretch provision seems like the clubhouse leader right now.