2023 Orlando Magic Trade Value Column: A future to plan for

The Orlando Magic are a team on the rise with several franchise pillars in place heading into the trade deadline. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic are a team on the rise with several franchise pillars in place heading into the trade deadline. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
Mo Bamba struggled mightily as the starter the last two games before leaving with back spasms. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

2023 Orlando Magic Trade Value Column

Category III — Make a BIG offer

12. Mo Bamba (2-year, $20.6 million, non-guaranteed in 2024)

Last Year: 8th

The Orlando Magic have plenty of size and length to go around. Yet, it still feels like something is missing on the interior. There are even some questioning Wendell Carter’s long-term viability despite how solid he is overall (and the fact he is playing through a plantar fascia injury).

But Orlando’s lack of rim protection and interior presence is noted. It is perhaps the biggest disappointment from this team and the way its young center has developed.

Former Magic general manager Rob Hennigan observed that you typically have a good sense of who a player is by the end of their rookie contract. Let the first year after his rookie contract expired set the record for Mo Bamba.

Bamba has not become the shot-blocking, 3-point shooting dynamo his talent seemed to promise. Instead, Bamba will still have some strong offensive games but he is largely ineffective in the paint. Yes, he is able to block some shots and can be tough to finish around, but his ability to diagnose and react to plays quickly is poor and he is not a strong rebounder.

Bamba has simply not worked out for this team as intended. And now he has fallen completely out of the rotation.

A new coach in Jamahl Mosley helped him have a career season last year. Now it feels like he needs a change of scenery more than anybody. Unfortunately for the Magic, the rest of the league likely knows his shortcomings. He is not going to fetch a ton on the market, even with a lot of teams needing a backup big.

11. Moe Wagner (1-year, $1.9 million)

Last Year: 13th

Moe Wagner can oscillate between “what is he doing out there” to “every team needs a guy who can get under a team’s skin” to “this guy is just so skilled it is hard not to play him.” And that can all happen within one game.

Wagner has put himself in the team’s rotation and clearly has earned it. Entering Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, Wagner was averaging 18.5 points per game in the previous four games. That shows the skill Wagner has on the block and his ability to finish and get to the line — 7.3 free throw attempts per game in that span.

Wagner though clearly should be the third-string center.

That is the conundrum for the Magic. Wagner rates as one of the worst rim protectors in the league — entering Sunday’s game, opponents shoot 77.3 percent at the rim against Wagner according to data from Second Spectrum, the worst mark among centers who average at least 15.0 minute per game.

Wagner is good at taking charges — he leads the team with eight charges drawn this year — and positions himself well even if he cannot do much above the rim.

It makes sense to keep Wagner around as an emergency backup. He gives the team a good edge too.

10. Bol Bol (2-year, $4.4 million, 2024 non-guaranteed)

Bol Bol has been perhaps the biggest revelation of the Orlando Magic’s season. He is certainly the biggest surprise.

The guy the team sent a lifeline to at least year’s trade deadline has turned into a major find.

That is, of course, because Bol worked himself back to health so he could play and contribute more regularly. And because the Magic had the space to let him make mistakes and play through them. This was a real opportunity in a low-pressure situation. And Bol has delivered.

Bol is a unique player who defenses do not quite know what to do with all the time. He can work off the dribble and finish on the move going toward the basket. He has a ton of offensive skill. And with his length, he can potentially be a strong shot blocker.

The more he has played though, and the more the pressure in Orlando toward winning has ramped up, his flaws have become apparent.

He is not quick laterally nor strong enough to defend the post. That puts the Magic’s defense in a bind. Offensively, he is almost exclusively looking for his shot. And if it is working, he is devastating and unique. When it is not, he floats around the perimeter and is not much of a threat.

On one hand, the Magic should consider this Bol’s rookie year. He deserves the opportunity to work on his game this offseason and see if he can improve.

But the Magic are also going to change their focus soon. And Bol has shown enough that he could very well have a market if the Magic want to include him in a trade. Bol is quietly a name to watch before the deadline.