Turns out that Mo Bamba’s foot injury was more serious than expected.
Bamba, who had missed the last three games with a sore foot, has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left tibia, the Magic announced before Tuesday’s game against the Thunder.
“Thankfully we caught this early and are able to treat Mo without surgery,” Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations, said in a statement. “His return to action will depend on how he responds to treatment.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Bamba will miss “significant time.”
Orlando Magic rookie center Mo Bamba will miss significant time with a stress fracture in his lower left leg, league sources tell ESPN. For now, there's no expectation that he will need surgery.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2019
Bamba, who the Magic selected with the sixth pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 16.3 minutes per game in his rookie season.
More important than production this season for Bamba was developing his lanky seven-foot, 221-pound frame for the physical demands of an 82-game NBA season. While Bamba and the Magic are fortunate that their 20-year-old center of the future has potentially avoided surgery, any time foot issues develop for a seven-footer, it is alarming.
More @OrlandoMagic coach Steve Clifford on Mo Bamba staying engaged despite his injury: "He’s good (with learning). He understood that he’s injured, but the process & experiences are still there, and we want to do everything that we can to make sure that he continues to grow."— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) February 6, 2019
It’s the second straight season that the Magic’s lottery pick will miss considerable time, with Jonathan Isaac being limited to 27 games as a rookie last season.
With no timetable for Bamba’s return, Khem Birch will take over the back-up center role for a bulk, if not the remainder, of the season.