Usually, when a team lands near the top of the lottery in the NBA, they give that play every opportunity to become a core piece of the team. For whatever reason, the Orlando Magic have seemingly done the opposite with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Mo Bamba. Now, he finds himself in NBA trade rumors.
Bamba came out of Texas with a lot of fanfare. His unique blend of skills for his size had talent evaluators salivating at what he could become. Bamba was already an intimidating presence defensively, but he showed enough shooting touch that he could eventually stretch his range out to the NBA 3-point line.
With no consistent playing time on the horizon, Mo Bamba landed on the list of young players who are ready for a trade before the deadline. Out of everyone on the list, Bamba arguably is the one who needs a change of scenery the most.
Despite the potential, Orlando has buried Bamba on their bench. They committed long-term money to Nikola Vucevic, blocking Bamba’s path to consistent minutes. He is not even their first big man off the bench now, as Khem Birch and Chuma Okeke have both moved ahead of him in the pecking order.
Yes, Mo Bamba has some shortcomings, as he has battled injuries and his toughness has been questioned. But we’re talking about a player who is 22, in his third year in the league and played only one year in college. He needs playing time to develop. Instead, he has seen his minutes and role decrease each season in Orlando.
There would be no shortage of teams interested in acquiring Bamba. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are two teams that have reportedly checked in on him already. As pointed out in the Bleacher Report piece, the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets could all be interested as well.
Something has to give sooner or later for Bamba and the Magic. There is no reason to have him sit at the end of the bench if there are no plans to increase his role. Orlando might as well package him with an unsavory contract or flip him for a young guard who is underperforming to help fill the holes left by injury in their backcourt, whether to the Knicks, Lakers, or elsewhere.