The Orlando Magic have signed 6-foot-9 big man Khem Birch, the club announced Wednesday.
Birch, now 24, went undrafted in 2014, spending summer league with the Washington Wizards and training camp with the Miami Heat. After one season with the Sioux Falls SkyForce, the Heat’s NBA D-League affiliate, Birch headed overseas. He played for the Turkish team Uşak Sportif in 2015 and then the Greek powerhouse Olympiacos in 2016.
Birch made 37 appearances for Olympiacos in EuroLeague play, averaging 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and one block while shooting 62.4 percent from the floor. He figures to get his points as a rebounder and finisher.
Birch has yet to catch on in the NBA, but has found success at every level at which he’s played: he can count a McDonald’s All-American selection, two Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year awards, an NBA D-League All-Star selection, and an NBA D-League All-Defensive First Team selection among the accolades he’s earned.
After waiving Stephen Zimmerman, Orlando needed another big man to play behind Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. In Birch, the Magic’s new front office may have found an outside-the-box candidate for that role. It’s encouraging to see Jeff Weltman and John Hammond search for emerging and developing talent as they look to fill out this roster.