Sixers sign former lottery pick Mo Bamba to vet minimum deal
The Sixers added their second free agent of the summer on Wednesday, signing Westtown School product Mo Bamba to a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum.
Bamba was a high lottery pick in 2018, spending four-and-a-half seasons with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at the 2023 trade deadline.
While all is not yet lost for the seven-footer's NBA career, that he's signing for a one-year veteran minimum at the age of 25 isn't a promising sign for where things are trending. Perhaps there's some untapped potential for new head coach Nick Nurse to unlock. But, history says that Bamba may be too far behind the developmental curve to ever reach his ceiling.
Nonetheless, Bamba's size (7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-10 wingspan) makes him every bit a traditional center. 2022-23 was the only season of his career in which Bamba didn't rank in the 90th percentile of bigs in block rate, according to Cleaning The Glass.
Bamba has also had consecutive seasons of strong three-point shooting. If nothing else, he's become a serviceable perimeter shooter who deploys his size and length well at the rim, even if he's a bit foul prone.
By itself, it's a fine signing. A minimum flyer on a well-sized player in his mid-20s has very little downside.
The "very little" is what it means for Paul Reed. The restricted free agent and fan-favorite big man has yet to be signed - by the Sixers or someone else. So, you can't help but wonder what bringing in another young big man might mean. But, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dismissed the idea that signing Bamba meant that the Sixers were prepared to let Reed walk away.
The interesting storyline is what this means for James Harden. The star point guard found success late in the season running second-unit lineups with Reed. It was really the first time anyone could feel any reasonable degree of confidence that the Sixers could hold down the fort while Embiid rested. Bamba isn't stylistically similar to Reed, but his shooting should fit well next to Harden.
Regardless of what it means for Harden, Reed, or anything else, one thing is for sure: better to watch a young guy with untapped potential than it is to watch DeAndre Jordan, Montrezl Harrell, or Dewayne Dedmon.