10 players the Rockets can add through trade exceptions

Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets trade target #2: Mo Bamba

To say that Mo Bamba has fallen out of the rotation in Orlando would be a major understatement, as the former lottery pick is averaging just 7 minutes in his third season. If nothing else, this is a clear indicator of the fact that Bamba and the Magic will be headed for a divorce sooner rather than later.

When asked why Bamba is receiving such little playing time, Magic head coach Steve Clifford didn’t hold back, making it clear exactly what he thinks of the third-year center.

“As I explained to him, the reality is this: Our best position by far is the five spot. By far. [Nikola Vucevic] is playing at an All-Star level. Khem Birch is not just good now; Khem Birch is having a terrific year.

So a lot of it is that. (Bamba) is playing behind two guys who (are excelling). Every night, it’s not even close — our best position is the five.”

This is a similar response to former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s explanation for why Danuel House wasn’t in the starting rotation last season, as D’Antoni stated that House simply wasn’t as good as the guys who were starting ahead of him. Clifford elaborated further on the situation with the 7-foot center.

“What he’s got to do is work hard because … there’s going to be a sickness, a sprained ankle, foul trouble (for one of the other centers). That’s the way the NBA works. It just is.

What I’m always going to do is play the guys that give your team the best chance to win. Those two guys (Vucevic and Birch) are two of our best five or six players right now. So I’m not looking to make a change unless we have to at that position.”

Well then. So in other words, Bamba should be on the trade radar and could easily be a target for the Rockets, as the 22-year-old has yet to scratch the surface of his full potential, and would bring a much needed skillset to the Rockets, for several reasons.

For starters, Bamba would be a great screener in the pick-and-roll, which the Rockets clearly don’t have without Christian Wood, as stated by Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas, who stated, “We don’t really have the rim running presence without Christian.”

Bamba’s per 36 minutes reveal a player that’s constantly improving, as outlined below:

  • 2018-19: 13.7 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • 2019-20: 13.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 blocks
  • 2020-21: 25.7 points, 14.9 rebounds, 2.7 blocks

As if Bamba’s 2020-21 numbers weren’t already astronomical enough, he’s posting 63.1 percent true shooting, which is much higher than the league average of 50 percent.

Bamba is making $5.9 million this season, meaning the Rockets could use the James Harden exception and would still have some available money left on the TPE.

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