As the trade deadline approaches, not even the Toronto Raptors can escape the rumor mill. In recent days, names like Spurs center Jakob Poeltl have been thrown around as potential additions. If they want to go after a more cost-effective option, Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba could be in play.
Toronto hasn’t been linked to the Orlando center yet, but Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that the Magic are rumored to be willing to take a first-round pick or a whittled-down package of two second-rounders for their former 2018 lottery selection.
The Magic and Bamba did not agree to a contract extension after the expiration of his rookie deal, meaning he is a free agent this summer. In his fourth NBA season, the long-limbed Texas Longhorn is finally starting games and getting an opportunity to play. Until this season, he was buried at the end of the Magic bench.
Despite improved play from the fourth-year center, the Magic are the worst team in the NBA. His skillset would fit the Raptors style of attack well, while Orlando, who failed to commit to Bamba, could receive draft assets if they choose to make a deal.
Toronto Raptors rumors: The skills of Mo Bamba would help on defense.
Bamba is a 7-footer with a 7-9 wingspan. If acquired, he would be Toronto’s tallest player. A significant Achilles heel for the Raptors this season has been defensive rebounding. Bamba is averaging 6.2 defensive boards and 8.4 overall over 32 games in this campaign.
Bamba also impacts the game by terrorizing potential scorers by blocking 2.1 shots per game. The Raptors desperately need a last-line defender who can alter opposing shots and clean the defensive boards.
The Raptors held two of the NBA’s best teams in the Suns and Bucks to 99 points and 96 points in a seven-point win on the road, respectively. Their defense is good, but it can be next-level stingy if they could secure more defensive rebounds and block more shots.
In his last ten games, Pascal Siakam is averaging 10 rebounds per contest. He could use help on the glass, and Bamba could be the guy to take pressure off of Siakam.
On offense, Bamba is having a career year, averaging 9.8 points in 28 minutes per game. He has dramatically improved his weak free-throw shooting to 76.7% this season, up from a career average of 66.3%. Offensively, Bamba could develop into a solid stretch-five as he is making 33% of nearly four three-point attempts per game.
At age 23, he fits the timeline of the Raptors’ core talent and appears close to breaking out as a solid consistent contributor. If they can acquire him without parting with their 2022 first, Toronto needs to consider this move.
Would the Toronto Raptors regret trading for Mo Bamba?
The only true negatives to acquiring Bamba is that he is a free agent this summer. Unless the first-round pick surrendered is lottery-protected, a player of Chris Boucher’s caliber and a pick might be a steep asking price.
The deal would also fail to significantly address that Toronto is slightly under the luxury tax this season adding to the problem, with Bamba making $7.5 million in comparison to Boucher’s $7 million. This also doesn’t helo solve Toronto’s lack of point guard depth.
Should Raptors’ management commit to a deal like this, it would correct some defensive issues, making the team better by default. Bamba would be a competitive threat to Precious Achiuwa, and the two bigs could push each other to reach their maximum potential.
Bamba wouldn’t be a bad option to play center for the Raptors, but general manager Bobby Webster won’t want to overpay for a player who could walk away in less than six months. If his value decreases just a bit, Toronto could grab him for a cheap price.