By now, you know the drill
I can't say this development is all that surprising as the writing has been on the wall for Mo Bamba in Orlando for quite some time. The only difference was before it was mostly a rumor, and now we have something more concrete. The Magic are declining to offer Bamba a qualifying offer and now he's free to sign wherever he wants. As a reminder, this now eliminates any sort of TPE options as a path to add him, you're either using cap space or some MLEs.
Here's the question about Mo Bamba. I think it's fair to say he may not have lived up to the expectations on the Magic, but is it more because it was the Magic and he barely played or because he stinks? He certainly had the best year of his career his season, but that can sometimes be concerning when a guy only starts to try in what is a contract year. Having said that, the numbers do intrigue me.
In 25.7 minutes a night (career high), Bamba put up 10.6 points (career high), 8.1 rebounds (career high), 1.2 assists (career high) and 1.7 blocks (career high) all while shooting 48/38% splits and making 1.5 3PM a night. That three point percentage is what really stands out because it came on decent volume (4.0). At just 23 years old, you could make the case that in the right system and environment, there's a whole bunch of potential there to unlock. He also passes the eye test
With Bamba, it never really felt like there was a talent issue, but more an opportunity issue. Seeing as he's just 23, it wouldn't shock me if as he gets older and more mature, he starts to figure things out even more if put in the right situation. He's one of those guys who you can maybe buy low on and then his production outperforms his deal.
My guess is now that he's on the open market, he'll have a decent amount of suitors. As I sit here and look at the free agency landscape, I see now reason why Brad shouldn't call. He only has the $6.6 TPMLE to work with so it's not a ton of money and probably not even the highest that Bamba could get, but in terms of a need it's definitely something that is on the list. We all agree that reserve big is a need on this roster. Ideally someone that could protect the rim, stretch the floor, and matches the timeline of their young core.
Does Bamba not check all those boxes? Yeah, kinda.
The sad news is now that Bamba can pick whatever team he wants, you have to worry about other teams that could potentially offer him not just more money, but a bigger role. That's even true in the event it was on the same $6.6M salary number that the Celts could offer. We just have no idea what he values most. At best, you're looking at a backup spot on the Celts roster. Someone that's Rob injury insurance, and maybe someone that gets extra run on nights Ime wants to give Horford a night off to keep him fresh. In this scenario, they obviously move on from Theis, but it's certainly an interesting idea from the Celts perspective. I consider it somewhat of a stretch because of what his market will probably look like, but maybe he values being on a contender and someone that could potentially fill in for Al in a post-Horford world. Who knows.
What I do know is his age, position and skillset match what the Celts should be looking for this offseason. It'll probably require a prayer, but Bamba did go to high school for a time in NH, so he's basically a New England native. Plus, about 2 years ago I traded for him in 2K and he legit blocks everything. Ridiculous wingspan, so that alone is enough to have me on board. As we know, 2K rarely lies.
So go ahead, add Bamba to your list of targets. It makes too much sense which most likely means there's no way it happens, but it's for sure something to keep an eye on.