Mohamed Bamba

Magic Notes: Fultz, Isaac, Bamba, Bol

Point guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac are viewed by the Magic as cornerstone pieces, but the two former lottery picks haven’t seen much action in recent years. Fultz has appeared in just 26 games since the start of the 2020/21 season, while Isaac hasn’t played at all during that time.

There was some optimism this summer that this would finally be the year both Fultz and Isaac are back in the Magic’s lineup, but it seems that won’t happen right away. According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), Isaac is still ramping up and isn’t yet ready for group work, while Fultz – who has a fractured toe – will miss all of training camp and doesn’t yet have a timetable for his return.

It has been a long road back for Isaac in particular — he tore his ACL in 2020 and suffered a setback near the end of his recovery process earlier this year, undergoing a minor procedure in March. However, he told reporters on Monday that he’ll definitely be back on the court this season and that he aims to return sooner rather than later (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • Asked on Monday about his decision to re-sign with the Magic this offseason after not receiving a qualifying offer from the team, Mohamed Bamba cited “familiarity” with the franchise as an important factor (video link via Price). “I love the direction that we’re going in as an organization,” Bamba said. “I’m really close with the coaching staff, and that’s across the board. I feel like there’s so much unfinished business here to do.”
  • Bol Bol has yet to play in a game for the Magic, having undergone foot surgery in January before being acquired by Orlando in a February trade. But he’s back on a new contract with the club and told reporters on Monday that he’s fully healthy entering the 2022/23 season (Twitter link via Price).
  • Isaac’s health and Bol’s potential contributions are among the frontcourt questions facing the Magic this season, Price writes for The Orlando Sentinel. Wendell Carter‘s continued progression at both end of the floor will also be important for Orlando as the team looks to incorporate No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Price adds.

Magic Notes: Shittu, Harris, Bamba, Banchero

After three years of working for an NBA opportunity, Simisola Shittu may be getting his best chance with the Magic, writes Tony East of Forbes. A report earlier this month indicates that Shittu will be in training camp with Orlando, likely on an Exhibit 10 contract.

The 22-year-old was considered a top prospect when he enrolled at Vanderbilt, but he suffered a torn ACL that healed just in time for his lone collegiate season. He went undrafted in 2019 and spent two years in the G League before heading to Israel. He played for the Pacers in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, earning himself a chance with the Magic.

“I’m resilient,” he said. “Certain cards don’t fall the right way or anything like that. But at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve just continued to grow from it and gotten better each year.”

There’s more from Orlando:

Contract Details: Booker, Towns, Magic, Oladipo, Anderson, Hardy

The new super-max extensions for Suns guard Devin Booker and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns each come with a different perk.

Booker’s deal includes a 10% trade kicker, but is fully guaranteed for all four years, with no player option in 2027/28.

Towns’ new contract, conversely, doesn’t feature a trade kicker, but has a fourth-year player option, giving Towns the ability to opt out and reach free agency in 2027.

Here are several more contract details from around the NBA:

  • Both Mohamed Bamba and Bol Bol received one guaranteed season and one non-guaranteed season on their new two-year contracts with the Magic. Bamba has matching cap hits of $10.3MM on his deal, while Bol’s cap hits are $2.2MM apiece.
  • Victor Oladipo‘s reworked two-year deal with the Heat came in at $18.2MM in total. It’s worth $8.75MM in 2022/23, with a $9.45MM player option for ’23/24.
  • As previously reported, Kyle Anderson‘s two-year contract with the Timberwolves is worth exactly $18MM. It features a first-year salary of $8,780,488 and a 5% raise to $9,219,512 for 2023/24.
  • Jaden Hardy‘s three-year contract with the Mavericks is, as expected, worth the minimum in all three seasons. It’s fully guaranteed in the first two years, with a partial guarantee of $400K in year three.

Mohamed Bamba Signs Two-Year Deal With Magic

JULY 7: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JUNE 30: The Magic are set to bring back big man Mohamed Bamba on a two-year, $21MM contract, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

By opting to not tender a qualifying offer to Bamba, Orlando made him an unrestricted free agent. Haynes notes that several rival clubs were considering Bamba, who enjoyed a breakout fourth season with the Magic. He started in 69 of 71 available contests for Orlando, having previously started in six games across his first three NBA seasons.

Suiting up in a jumbo-sized frontcourt alongside fellow 2018 lottery draft pick Wendell Carter Jr., Bamba averaged career highs of 10.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG and 1.2 APG across 25.7 MPG. He posted a tantalizing .480/.381/.781 slash line.

During the 2021/22 season, Bamba at last consistently exhibited the promise that convinced Orlando to draft him with the sixth pick out of Texas. He became one of the league’s better rim protectors and emerged as a reliable long-range option on volume (38.1% on 4.0 attempts a night).

Bamba’s future with the club may see him return to a reserve role. The Magic opted to take Duke power forward Paolo Banchero with the top pick in the 2022 draft, and will most likely start Franz Wagner, the eighth pick in 2021, at small forward. Carter was signed to a four-year, $50MM extension last summer. Though Bamba was also extension-eligible, Orlando ultimately opted to let him reach unrestricted free agency before bringing him back, so it seems likely that Carter will at least start the 2022/23 season at center. Injured power forward Jonathan Isaac, himself the sixth pick in the 2017 draft, is expected to return to the floor at some point during the 2022/23 season as well.

The 7′ big man is returning to a club that will boast a variety of solid players. After kicking off their rebuild in full with a flurry of moves at the 2021 trade deadline, Orlando also’s future already looks bright. In addition to the club’s aforementioned lottery talent in the frontcourt, the team also boasts talented young guard Cole Anthony, 2021 lottery selection Jalen Suggs, and 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz in the backcourt.

Bulls Rumors: LaVine, Gallinari, Drummond, White

Zach LaVine is expected to finalize a new contract with the Bulls shortly after free agency begins at 6:00 pm Eastern, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. LaVine has informed people that he plans to stay in Chicago, and his new contract will likely be a five-year max deal in the $215MM range, Johnson adds.

After weeks of rumors that LaVine was prepared to explore his options on the free agent market, the situation has settled down in recent days and a return to Chicago appeared imminent. General manager Marc Eversley said after last week’s draft that the team would “do what it will take” to re-sign LaVine.

The 27-year-old guard has been an All-Star the past two years. He dealt with knee issues this season, but was still able to average 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 67 games.

There’s more from Chicago, all courtesy of Johnson:

  • The Bulls are among several teams that would have interest in adding Danilo Gallinari if he gets waived by the Spurs. The move is expected after San Antonio agreed to acquire Gallinari on Wednesday as part of the return for Dejounte Murray. Johnson estimates that Gallinari will receive a two-year deal worth about $7-8MM per season and points out that Billy Donovan coached Gallinari with the Thunder.
  • Chicago, which has been linked to several centers through trade and free agency rumors, has interest in signing Andre Drummond. Several other teams will also pursue Drummond, Johnson adds, but he should be available on a veteran’s minimum salary.
  • Johnson says rumors that the Bulls will try to sign Mohamed Bamba are “on life support” and believes that reports of interest in dealing for Jazz center Rudy Gobert were exaggerated. Another possibility could be trading for San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl if the Spurs continue to unload their veterans.
  • It appears likely that third-year guard Coby White will remain in Chicago. Johnson states that the Bulls listened to offers for White before the draft and were asking for a young rotation player and a draft pick. White is among Chicago’s best outside shooters and provides backcourt depth that is important with concerns about Lonzo Ball‘s knee.

Otto Porter, Gary Harris, T.J. Warren Among Lakers’ Potential FA Targets

The Lakers‘ options on the free agent market this week will likely be limited, since the team will only be able to offer the $6.5MM taxpayer mid-level exception or a minimum-salary contract to potential targets. However, as Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, the team will still aim high, hoping to sell players on the opportunity to start and the ability to increase their stock with a strong year in Los Angeles, like Malik Monk did in 2021/22.

According to Buha, youth, length, athleticism, and shooting are among the traits the Lakers will be prioritizing. Two-way wings who could come in and potentially start alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook will be a priority, sources tell The Athletic.

Here are some details on the types of players the Lakers will be eyeing in free agency:

Magic Emerge As Leading Suitor For Isaiah Hartenstein

The Magic are a “leading suitor” for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein, league sources tell veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link). Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said earlier today that Orlando had interest in Hartenstein.

With Serge Ibaka still rounding into form following offseason back surgery, Hartenstein emerged early in the year as the Clippers‘ primary backup center and thrived in the role, making 62.6% of his shots from the field and handing out 2.4 APG in just 17.9 minutes per contest. He even flashed the ability to hit the occasional three-pointer (14-of-30) and played solid defense.

While the Clippers would presumably like to bring back Hartenstein, their ability to offer him a raise on last season’s minimum-salary contract will be extremely limited, since they only hold his Non-Bird rights are are rumored to be using their taxpayer mid-level exception on John Wall. That opens the door for Hartenstein to sign with another team for part or all of its mid-level.

The Magic primarily used Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba at the five in 2021/22, but Bamba will be a free agent this summer and isn’t expected to get a qualifying offer. Without a QO, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, paving the way for his possible exit out of Orlando.

The Magic reportedly still have some interest in a new deal with Bamba, but if they’re able to add Hartenstein to share center duties with Carter, that may close the door on a Bamba return.

The Bulls and Rockets are among the other teams that have been linked to Hartenstein.

Magic Aren’t Expected To Tender QO To Bamba

It appears the Magic will let Mo Bamba become an unrestricted free agent, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.

A source tells Price that the team isn’t expected to submit a qualifying offer to Bamba before today’s deadline. That would make the fourth-year center unrestricted and take away the Magic’s opportunity to match any offer he receives in free agency.

Bamba’s qualifying offer would be $10.1MM and it would provide him with the option of signing it and returning to the Magic next season. He has been with Orlando since being selected with the sixth pick in the 2018 draft.

The team remains interested in keeping Bamba when free agency begins, Price adds, but presumably at a lower figure. A sign-and-trade deal also remains a possibility.

Several teams are expected to pursue Bamba on the free agent market, with a source telling Price that the Raptors, Knicks, Lakers, Bulls, Rockets, Heat and Timberwolves have all shown interest.

Bamba is coming off his best NBA season, posting career highs with 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 assists per game. He became a full-time starter for the first time in his career, starting 69 of the 71 games that he played.

Raptors Rumors: VanVleet, Young, Boucher, Bamba, Gobert

The Raptors and Fred VanVleet appear on track to reach an agreement on a four-year contract extension that could approach $120MM in total value, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

VanVleet, who will be extension-eligible this offseason, will earn $21.25MM in 2022/23 and has a $22.82MM player option for 2023/24. If he were to decline that option, he could sign a four-year extension worth up to $114.24MM, so Fischer’s $120MM projection looks a little high.

Still, it sounds as if the Raptors will be prepared to offer VanVleet the maximum amount he can receive on an extension. The All-Star point guard would become eligible for a more lucrative contract if he plays out the ’22/23 season, then turns down his player option to become a free agent next summer. But an extension worth $28.5MM per year that locks him up until age 33 may be hard to pass up.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • According to Fischer, Thaddeus Young appears likely to remain in Toronto, potentially on a two-year contract agreement worth at least $10MM. Young was acquired by the Raptors from San Antonio in a trade deadline deal in February.
  • Young is one of the Raptors’ two key free agents this offseason, along with big man Chris Boucher. Zach Kram of The Ringer makes a case for why he considers Boucher the most interesting free agent on the market due to his unusual combination of skills and physical traits.
  • The Raptors and Bulls are among the teams that appear to have interest in Magic big man Mohamed Bamba, Fischer reports. However, Bamba will be a restricted free agent and may not leave Orlando — he and the Magic are motivated to work out a new deal, sources tell Fischer.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, Fischer notes that the Raptors continue to monitor the availability of a handful of top big men, including Jazz star Rudy Gobert. While Ayton may also be on the team’s radar, Toronto won’t have cap room and could only acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Rockets Notes: Free Agent Targets, Burke, Gordon, Draft

The Rockets will target a backup center when free agency opens at the end of the month, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The team is short on reliable big men after agreeing to trade Christian Wood to the Mavericks, and although Houston will receive Boban Marjanovic in the deal, the front office plans to explore other options on the free agent market.

Feigen identifies Nic Claxton as one possibility, saying the Nets likely wouldn’t match a full mid-level exception offer (starting at $10MM+) because of luxury tax concerns. Claxton was a part-time starter this season and put up career-best numbers with 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per night.

Other free agents that Feigen mentions include former Rocket Isaiah Hartenstein, Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee, Mo Bamba, Hassan Whiteside, JaVale McGee and Dewayne Dedmon. After a promising rookie year, Alperen Sengun is expected to be Houston’s starting center next season.

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • As expected, Mavericks guard Trey Burke has officially exercised his $3.3MM player option for next season, which is necessary for the Wood trade to be finalized, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. The deal still can’t be announced until after Dallas picks at No. 26 on Thursday because the Mavs owe a protected 2023 first-round pick to New York.
  • In his latest piece for Substack, Marc Stein confirms that the Rockets are shopping veteran guard Eric Gordon in hopes of getting a first-round pick in return. Houston also tried to move Gordon at the trade deadline, but couldn’t find an acceptable offer. The 33-year-old will make $19.57MM next season and a non-guaranteed $20.92MM in 2023/24.
  • In a separate story, Feigen examines the information the Rockets use when evaluating draft prospects. The team was among the first to embrace analytics under former general manager Daryl Morey, but current GM Rafael Stone admits there are many times when the numbers don’t match what talent evaluators believe they’re seeing. “There are so many different tools you can look at,” he said. “If you like a particular stat a majority of the time it can easily lie to you in individual instances. You don’t just go back to work with video. You can back to work with the whole thing. It gives you hints about what you need to study more with a particular player.”