Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba is entering his fifth NBA season with the team, but there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the former Texas Longhorn's free agency this summer.
As a restricted free agent, the Magic surprisingly rejected the option to give Bamba a qualifying offer, which made him an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any of the other 29 teams without an ability to match. However, the two sides agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal for Bamba to return to Orlando ... the only NBA home he has known.
When he was drafted sixth overall in 2018, many believed Bamba would become the next great center in franchise history. However, the rise of Nikola Vucevic and Bamba's inability to meet the high expectations placed upon him reduced him to mostly a bench role. However, when Vucevic was traded to the Chicago Bulls in 2021 and Jamahl Mosley was brought in as head coach, Bamba began to show more of the promise he flashed during college.
Last season, Bamba had a career year averaging 10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds as the team's starting center. It seemed like Bamba wouldn't return especially after the Magic drafted Paolo Banchero to pair with Wendell Carter Jr. in the frontcourt, but Mo is still in Orlando.
Now, he's expected to come off the bench but he's excited to transition into a new role with the team.
"As far as personal like career highs and all that stuff, that stuff is cool, but I think now's the time to turn a new leaf and start you know, putting in some wins and, and leading this club to a lot of better things," Bamba said.
Even though he is only 24, Bamba is older than half of the Magic's current roster and he's expected to be a veteran leader and role player for a rising Orlando squad this season.
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