JULY 9: Bamba’s deal is official, the Sixers announced on Twitter.
JULY 5: Mohamed Bamba is signing a one-year deal with the Sixers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). It will be for the veteran’s minimum, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice (Twitter link).
The 76ers still plan on keeping restricted free agent Paul Reed, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that Bamba will be an insurance policy at backup center if Reed were to depart.
The sixth overall pick of the 2018 draft, Bamba spent his first four-plus seasons with the Magic, who sent him to the Lakers ahead of the trade deadline. He sprained his ankle shortly after being moved to L.A. and rarely played for the Lakers off the bench even before the injury. They wound up waiving his $10.3MM contract for 2023/24 before it became guaranteed.
In total, Bamba appeared in 49 games in 2022/23, averaging 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per contest. He posted a shooting line of .485/.387/.661.
Although he has flashed the ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim, he hasn’t done either very consistently. Despite being 7’0″ with an enormous 7’10” wingspan, Bamba is very much a jump shooter offensively, rarely finishing in the paint or getting to the free throw line. He also makes a lot of mistakes in attempting to block shots he shouldn’t defensively, leaving the weak side open behind him.
Bamba saw his role with the Magic decline last season after the team added Wendell Carter and Paolo Banchero. He was outplayed by Moritz Wagner for the backup center job (Wagner re-signed with the Magic on a two-year, $16MM deal), and that’s partly why they moved Bamba.
Still just 25, Bamba could have some untapped upside. He’s blessed with enviable physical tools and he’s a low-risk signing at the league minimum.
Even if Reed does return, it’s possible Bamba could outplay him and become the team’s backup center behind Joel Embiid, though based on playing style, I would favor Reed’s aggression for the job, especially with Nick Nurse as head coach.