Ex-Coach Urges Warriors to Trade Kuminga for Mo Bamba

Ex-Coach Urges Warriors to Trade Kuminga for Mo Bamba
Magic center Mo Bamba (right)


Magic center Mo Bamba (right)

If you’re an NBA fan, you’ve almost certainly come across coach David Thorpe before. He was an ESPN analyst for a decade and has been a trainer for some well-known names in the league, including Joakim Noah and Udonis Haslem. Now, he writes for True Hoop and he, like many of us, has some notions on trades that might be beneficial to contenders across the league, including the Warriors.

This one might be tough to stomach for those excited about the Warriors’ wave of young players. But Thorpe, in the latest edition of the True Hoop newsletter, suggests that Golden State should pursue a relatively cost-effective young big man to gird against the possibility of another disappointing season for center and 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman.

Thorpe suggests that if there is any indication that Wiseman can’t handle a major role with the team in the upcoming season, the Dubs should go after Magic big man Mo Bamba when he is eligible to be traded later this season. And they should give up two rookies and prized sophomore Jonathan Kuminga to do so.

Only Trade for Bamba if Wiseman Is not Ready

To be clear, Thorpe suggests this path only if the Warriors lose confidence in what Wiseman can bring. The Warriors brought back center Kevon Looney in free agency this summer, but lost Nemanja Bjelica, who returned to Europe. That leaves Wiseman, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, as the primary backup to Looney.

The Warriors have small-ball options Draymond Green and JaMychal Green at the 5, too. But Wiseman is the only other true center on the roster after Looney. That lack of depth, Thorpe wrote, was exposed in last year’s Finals. “The Celtics’ big men beat up the Warriors in the first half of last year’s NBA Finals, and everyone knows it,” Thorpe wrote.

“Who can the Warriors get to back up Kevin Looney? I think the Magic have the answer. Even though Mo Bamba finished strong last season, the Magic are very excited about Wendell Carter Jr., their projected starter at center.”

The suggested deal goes like this:

Magic receives Jonathan Kuminga, Ryan Rollins, Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Warriors receive Mo Bamba.

Indeed, Bamba would be a good fit with the Warriors, an athletic rim-protector with 3-point ability. After struggling in his first three NBA seasons, Bamba had a breakout year, averaging 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 25.7 minutes. He also shot 38.1% from the 3-point line, finally fulfilling his promise as a stretch-5, which was his reputation when he was chosen with the sixth pick in the NBA draft in 2018.

Bamba is also a bargain, having signed a two-year, $20.6 million contract in July to stay with Orlando. (Because he got a raise of more than 20% there is a moratorium on trading him until January.)

Would the Warriors Really Trade Jonathan Kuminga?

Of course, that deal is far from perfect.

Despite a report from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that Kuminga has been underwhelming in his work ethic, the Warriors are still very high on his potential and are hoping to build a core of young players to take over for the veteran group—Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green—down the line. Golden State has been clear in its intent not to bankrupt the future completely, and sending away both of this year’s picks as well as Kuminga would certainly dent the team’s future prospects.

The Magic, who are lacking in backcourt prospects, might be willing to take a deal built around Moses Moody instead of Kuminga. Much depends on how the first few months of the season unfold.

Bamba himself is only 24 years old and if he repeats what he did last year, he could be worth sending a haul to the Magic, especially because he would fit so well into Steve Kerr’s style of play. He would bulk up the Warriors in the middle, solidifying the team’s prospects to return to the NBA Finals, even if he does not have Kuminga’s upside.

It would help in the present, no doubt. And a future built around Jordan Poole, Moody, Wiseman and Bamba has potential, too. It’s a longshot, of course, but worth consideration.


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