Would Mo Bamba be a good trade target for the Lakers?
With less than two weeks to go before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 9, the Los Angeles Lakers still appear to be looking to make one more trade in order to solidify their roster heading into the All-Star break.
They already made a significant move by trading for forward Rui Hachimura on Monday, and he should help them in multiple ways, both directly and indirectly.
The Lakers now have a few options as far as another potential trade. They could opt for another bigger wing such as Hachimura who can play both forward positions, a smaller wing who plays the 2 and 3, a small, ball-handling guard or a true center.
If they choose a true center, the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner would seem to be the appropriate target, especially since he has been linked to L.A. ever since last summer. But there is a similar player with similar skill sets who may be an even better option: Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic, a player who is reportedly available in trade discussions.
The Magic are open to take trade calls on Mo Bamba, Terrence Ross, Gary Harris, & R.J. Hampton.
(per @TheSteinLine https://t.co/GPC7NFQD1Q) pic.twitter.com/kCPF8RQbK4
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) January 27, 2023
A report about a month ago indicated the Lakers would be expected to make a run at him ahead of the trade deadline.
Bamba could be a great target for several reasons.
Shot-blocking and rebounding
When Anthony Davis is either resting on the bench or injured, the Lakers suffer from a glaring lack of shot blocking and interior defense. When he was out with a stress injury in his right foot, they continually got punished in the paint through dribble penetration, which either led to layups or open 3-pointers off kick-outs for the opposition.
Bamba would give L.A. the ability to protect the rim even when Davis isn’t on the court. He has a career average of 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes and is averaging 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes this season.
At seven feet tall and 230 pounds, he is a long and lanky figure, and his 7-foot-10 wingspan can really bother opponents at or near the rim.
Bamba can also clean up the boards with his average of 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes this season, and he has gotten as high as 13.2 boards per 36 minutes just two seasons ago.
Allowing Davis to play his natural position
To piggyback on the previous point, Bamba would enable Davis to play a good chunk of his minutes at the 4, just as he did during the Lakers’ championship season three years ago.
When Davis plays center, he is the team’s main rim protector, which means he needs to remain near the paint a good amount of time. Whenever he is guarding someone away from the paint while playing the 5, the Lakers become vulnerable in the paint whenever he gets beat by his man.
But when Davis played the 4 three years ago, he was able to be more of a disruptor and to roam around and switch onto smaller players, knowing that he had a shot blocker such as Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee behind him.
That is the luxury Bamba could offer L.A., and he could make it a very strong defensive team once again, just as it was in 2020.
But the Lakers’ biggest weakness is 3-point shooting, and Bamba could have a significant impact in that department as well.
He is shooting 39.0 percent from beyond the arc this season, and his volume is solid, as he attempts 5.5 treys per 36 minutes.
Granted, he wouldn’t be playing heavy minutes with the Lakers, but he would be able to be on the court at the same time as Davis by camping out near the 3-point line, allowing Davis to play in the paint and in the post offensively.
Bamba is also a strong finisher at the basket, as well as a strong lob threat, just as McGee was when he was a Laker.
Turner is a better shot-blocker and 3-point shooter than Bamba, but he makes $18 million this season, and the Pacers will likely demand at least one future unprotected first-round draft pick from L.A. in return.
In addition, Turner will be a free agent this summer, and he may demand a lucrative contract.
Bamba, on the other hand, will make $10.3 million both this season and next, which means it would take fewer assets, at least in theory, for the lakers to obtain him.
He would become a free agent in 2024, the same summer when both Davis and LeBron James could opt out of their current contracts.
Plus, at age 24, Bamba is two years younger than Turner, and thus he could still have a bit of untapped potential.
Trading Pat Beverley would work in terms of matching salaries. Would throwing in a future first-round draft pick with generous protection, or better yet, one or two second-round picks instead, be enough to nab Bamba?