The Orlando Magic are adding a big man with the No. 1 pick. A league source told NBC Sports to expect it to be Jabari Smith out of Auburn, but there is some buzz it could be Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga.
Either way, combine that new big man with the extended Wendell Carter Jr. and the returning from injury Jonathan Isaac, and it’s hard to see a place for Mo Bamba in the rotation. Bamba will be a restricted free agent if the Magic extend a $10.1 million qualifying offer, but whether they do or not the Magic are expected to move on, according to Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report.
The idea of incorporating Smith or Holmgren into Orlando’s rebuild has sparked an expectation among league personnel that Bamba, a restricted free agent this summer, is likely to depart the franchise, especially after being considered a trade candidate prior to February’s trade deadline.
Bamba improved this season by staying healthy and taking on a larger role, starting 69 games for the Magic and averaging 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks a game. He shot 38.1% from 3 on four attempts a game. That said, he was inconsistent night to night, with plenty of games where he faded into the background. He’s a solid rim protector, but not elite.
Bamba is not the long-term answer in Orlando, not with a No. 1 pick walking through the door. However, he would make a solid backup center for some team and will get offers as a restricted free agent, maybe not at the numbers he was hoping for, but he has value and is an NBA center. A sign-and-trade may be worked out.
It’s something to watch for as we get past the initial run of player signings and movement in early July.