The Magic decided to waive Khem Birch on Thursday so they can give more playing time to their two young centers, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The 28-year-old Birch is expected to sign with the Raptors once he clears waivers Saturday, leaving Orlando with Mo Bamba, 22, and newly-acquired Wendell Carter Jr., who will turn 22 next week, as the team’s future in the middle.
Bamba has been slowed by injuries and conditioning concerns since being selected with the sixth pick in the 2018 draft. He was averaging just 12.0 minutes per game this season as the third-string center, but he’ll get a chance to develop his game now that Birch and Nikola Vucevic are both gone.
“It’s the opportunity I’ve been looking for since being drafted, and now is the time to go out there and play and just get better,” Bamba said. “It’s been a difficult road since being drafted, but the time is now and I’m here to seize the opportunity to do more for this team.”
There’s more from Orlando:
- The Magic were reluctant to part with Birch, who was a team leader and represented one of the best moves by president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, Robbins adds. Birch went undrafted in 2014 and played in Turkey and Greece before Weltman and Hammond convinced him to try the NBA in 2017. “He’s the guy that when you sit and watch film and you’re breaking down opponents … he’s going to be easy to respect,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He defends fours. He defends fives. He’s a great screener. Coaches constantly ask about him, and he’s a winning player.”
- Shooting guard Gary Harris appears ready to make his debut for Orlando tonight, tweets Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Acquired from the Nuggets in the Aaron Gordon trade, Harris has been sidelined since February 17 with an adductor strain. “I’m excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Harris said. “I’ve been around the team for a little bit now, so I’m excited to finally get out there and play with the guys.” (Twitter link)
- Devin Cannady‘s efforts to reach the NBA paid off this week when he signed a 10-day contract with the Magic. “It’s been a goal of mine to get to this level,” the G League Finals MVP said. “I had a great training camp with them. I love the staff here, the coaching staff and players. I’m excited to get going and be a part of this rebuild for the next 10 days and make the most of this opportunity.” (video link from NBA.com)