The New York Knicks are in constant search of talent. As one of the NBA’s biggest markets, they are always connected to some of the game’s brightest stars. Despite this, their never-ending search for a starting point guard continues. And now, with Mitchell Robinson’s future uncertain, they could be looking for a new starting center, too.
Despite Robinson donning a shirt that could indicate plans to return to the Knicks, his future with the team is unclear. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and since the Knicks don’t have cap space to work with, he could choose to to go a team that offers him more money.
In turn, New York should begin to think of alternative options. One idea brought up by Fred Katz of The Athletic would be to bring in Mo Bamba.
“Mo Bamba would be a natural answer here,” Katz explained. “He shot 38 percent from deep and played the best defense of his career this past season, but he’s restricted. Teams reserve the inflexibility of offer sheets for more expensive targets than Bamba.”
However, Katz also noted a potential issue that could prevent the Knicks from snagging Bamba.
Knicks Would Have to Trade for Bamba
Even though Bamba and the Orlando Magic were unable to come to an agreement on a rookie extension, the big man will still be a restricted free agent. This means the Magic will have the right to match any offer sheet that comes his way. And according to Katz, it would be a no-brainer for them to bring him back.
“The Knicks would probably have to turn any potential signing of him into a sign-and-trade, meaning the Magic would have to go along with it,” Katz explained. “I don’t see why Orlando wouldn’t want to keep Bamba for a reasonable price.”
Last season with the Magic, Bamba averaged career-highs across the board, putting up 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game on 38.1% shooting from three-point land. His 48.0% shooting from the field was just 0.1% below his previous career-high, which he posted in his rookie season.
As Katz noted, the Knicks would likely have to complete a sign-and-trade if they wanted to land Bamba, so what could that deal look like?
Potential Bamba-to-Knicks Trade
The Magic are in the midst of a very promising rebuild. They have Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, and Wendell Carter Jr. leading the way. Orlando will also be selecting first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, and Jabari Smith Jr. is heavily rumored to be their pick.
Bamba played well, so keeping him may sound smart, but with Carter Jr. and Smith Jr. likely taking over in the frontcourt, Orlando could be swayed to give him up if offered the right package.
With a roster full of talented guards and forwards, Orlando could look to improve on the wing. The most obvious answer here is Cam Reddish, who didn’t earn much playing time under Tom Thibodeau this past season. Orlando could use some defense and scoring at the wing, so a Reddish-Bamba swap may be a possibility.
The point is, the Magic would want a young player or picks in return for Bamba. But with how well he played on the defensive end last year, Thibodeau and the Knicks should seriously consider inquiring about a deal.