Mo Bamba isn't going anywhere after all.
The veteran center agreed to terms with the Orlando Magic on a two-year, $21 million deal Thursday, according to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.
The Magic declined to extend the $10.1 million qualifying offer to Bamba, which was surprising if only because it meant he'd be hitting unrestricted free agency. Orlando forfeited the right to match an offer sheet he received from another team.
Granted, the team's decision sent the message the 24-year-old wouldn't have a robust market. That left the door open for a return on less money than he would've earned from the qualifying offer.
The Orlando Sentinel's Khobi Price reported Wednesday the Magic still had "an interest in bringing him back" and that turned out to be true.
Price also explained that Bamba would have had a no-trade clause if he accepted the qualifying offer. By signing him to a new contract, Orlando can more easily move him if it chooses to at some point down the road.
When a first-round draft pick doesn't even get the qualifying offer, it's typically a sign his career hasn't panned out as expected. Bamba is no exception in that regard.
The 7-footer at least showed some promising signs in 2021-22. He set personal bests in all of the major categories thanks in part to playing more than he ever had. In 71 games, he averaged 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Just as encouraging—if not more so—he shot 48.0 percent overall and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Looking forward, Bamba's injury history is a concern. He has hit the 70-game threshold just once.
When a player has a career year on a 22-win team, it's also fair to wonder how much his numbers represented empty calories. Per NBA.com, the Magic were 3.1 points per 100 possessions better with Bamba on the bench.
With the addition of No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Bamba is reuniting with Orlando presumably with the knowledge he'll once again be coming off the bench. Banchero figures to be the starting 4, with Wendell Carter Jr. occupying the center spot.
That won't provide Bamba with a great showcase in terms of his next contract, but staying healthy and replicating his 2021-22 production in a lesser role could help solidify his value on the court.