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NBA Free Agency 2012: Ian Mahinmi 'Really Wants To Stay'

With all eyes in Dallas focused on Deron Williams headed into the summer of 2012, the Mavericks may have to let their own free agents take a backseat for the second year in a row.

One player who will likely be coveted in free agency is reserve center Ian Mahinmi, a former first-round pick of the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 who came into his own as a member of the Mavericks rotation this season.

An athletic 6'11 230 center, he out-performed incumbent starter Brendan Haywood on a per-minute basis, averaging 6 points, 5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks on 54.5% shooting in only 18 minutes a night.

With the dearth of quality big men in the NBA, Mahinmi, who had been playing for the league minimum, will likely receive the first big contract of his NBA career this summer.

In an interview with ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon, he said that staying in Dallas would be his first choice:

"Obviously it's been two great years for me," Mahinmi said. "The Mavs organization really gave me a chance to play and show the world what I can do, so I really want to stay here. But on the other part, you know that the NBA's a business. We all know that they're going to try to make the NBA better. Right now, I don't know if I'm in their plans, but me, I really want to stay here."

But with Brandan Wright likely slotted to fill in the backup center role next season, Dallas will have to decide whether Mahinmi can be a starting caliber center on an elite team.

If they view him as more of a reserve player, they'll have a hard time re-signing him to a significant contract even if they bring in Williams, especially with the dream of Dwight Howard not dead yet either.

For all the latest news, rumors and analysis about the Mavericks plans in the summer of 2012, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas storystream and head over to Mavs Moneyball.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.