Beyond thin-framed starter Nic Claxton, the Nets have unproven Day’Ron Sharpe and little else in the way of a true power forward. What they do have, is an abundance of wings capable of making an impact on both ends of the floor, and, with that surplus, perhaps they can wrangle the Los Angeles Lakers into a trade.
“The Nets are suddenly loaded with wings but thin in the frontcourt,” wrote Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report in an article from June 1. “The Lakers could use another three-and-D perimeter option and have a big to spare. A swap to satisfy both needs makes sense.”
As Swartz notes, Bamba can either start at power forward or back up Claxton at center.
– Mo Bamba
Bamba, 25, averaged just 3.7 points in nine regular-season appearances after being traded to the Lakers from the Orlando Magic. But the big man is just one year removed from a breakout year with 10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds while also connecting on 38.7% of his looks from beyond the arc.
Even this past season, he hit was shooting a career-best 39.8% from deep before the trade, albeit in a reduced role. But that drop-off was exacerbated by injuries in Los Angeles that bled into the postseason.
He saw the floor in just three games during the Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals, totaling 10 minutes and recording two shot attempts.
Bamba could be an answer to Claxton’s calls for better group rebounding from this past season.
Bamba’s fate in L.A. could come down to finances.
“With [Malik Beasley and Bamba], ideally, the Lakers would love to keep them,” speculated The Athletic’s Jovan Buha on ‘The HoopsHype Podcast’ with Michael Scotto on June 1. “I think L.A. is looking at it like they can opt them in and trade them on draft night or down the road or decline Beasley’s options and waive Bamba.”
Wrapping a two-year, $20.6 million contract, Bamba’s $10.3 million salary for the 2023-24 season becomes fully guaranteed on June 29, per Spotrac.
Nets Expected to Shop Veteran Wings
This proposal would align with reports that Brooklyn is set to explore the trade market on some of their veteran wings this offseason.
“There’s a belief the Nets could break up their surplus of wing depth and trade either [Dorian] Finney-Smith or O’Neale,” reported Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on April 23. Various teams around the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, are expected to pursue potential 3-and-D wings this summer.”
The Lakers could separate themselves from that group with this deal.
O’Neale’s $9.5 million salary for 2023-24 is only guaranteed for $2.5 million until July 10 in the final year of his four-year, $36 million contract meaning any deal for Bamba would have to wait until then to be completed.
He averaged 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and shot 38.9% from deep but he will also turn 30 on June 5.
Brooklyn would be adding salary in this trade which could be a non-starter for a move that doesn’t move the needed on a title pursuit. Even if Bamba would make for a solid addition in a vacuum, he’s not worth crossing into the luxury tax for.