Eastern Notes: Bamba, Gafford, Sabonis, Kyrie

Magic center Mohamed Bamba made his 41st start of the season on Saturday, reaching the starter criteria for restricted free-agents-to-be, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report tweets. A player meets the starter criteria when he makes at least 41 starts or logs 2,000 minutes in the season prior to his restricted free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes across the two seasons before he becomes a restricted free agent.

If Bamba hadn’t achieved the starter criteria, his qualifying offer this offseason would’ve dipped to $7,228,448. Now that he has met the criteria, his QO amount will remain at $10,096,703.

In many cases, the amount of an RFA’s qualifying offer isn’t all that important, since a player who intends to sign a longer-term deal won’t seriously consider accepting it. But that’s not always the case. For a player with a somewhat limited NBA résumé like Bamba, a $10MM+ qualifying offer wouldn’t be a mere placeholder — the Magic would have to decide whether they’re comfortable making that offer, and if they do, Bamba could realistically accept it if he doesn’t get a multiyear deal he likes.

Here are a few more items from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards center Daniel Gafford entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Thomas Bryant and Montrezl Harrell figure to share center duties for as long as Gafford remains sidelined.
  • Pacers center Domantas Sabonis exited the COVID-19 protocols on Sunday, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). The big man had a relatively quiet return to the lineup, scoring just nine points in a loss to Cleveland — it was only the fifth time this season that Sabonis hasn’t had double-digit points.
  • Nets guard Kyrie Irving said on Sunday that he remains hopeful about his ability to play in home games at some point, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. I’m keeping a positive mindset that anything can happen in these next few days or the next week,” Irving said. “Just crossing my fingers that something can come up either before the All-Star break or even just after.” Of course, Irving would become eligible to play games in Brooklyn if he received the COVID-19 vaccine, but it sounds like he’s hoping for the city to change its rules related to unvaccinated individuals.
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