Mo Bamba provided an update on his condition following his early exit from the NBA bubble to undergo a post-coronavirus evaluation.
“I think if the doctors are concerned about anything they would have told me, but I’ve heard nothing but good news since I left the bubble,” Bamba told Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.
Parry reported Wednesday that Bamba has been cleared to work out, including running and shooting, although the timeframe on contact remains a mystery under NBA safety protocols.
Bamba had the coronavirus in June and it had a lasting impact in the months that followed, as he was unable to fully get himself into game shape.
Bamba played sparingly in the Magic’s first two bubble games, playing a combined 10 minutes. He didn’t play in the final six games and then left the bubble shortly before the Magic’s first-round series against the Bucks for the evaluation.
“Getting all those tests done was probably the most important thing that I’ve done all year, besides vote,” Bamba told Parry. “It was really important. It’s a matter of just making sure that I’m taking care of my body and making sure I’m ruling out anything that could be harmful.”
Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s president of basketball operations, told reporters Monday that Bamba had some complications arise from COVID but had been cleared of any long-term health issues.
“The doctors have ruled out everything serious, but it will take some time to clear his system and that will probably be measured in months not weeks,” Weltman said. “So that’s really something that’s not going to be a long-term issue. He’s going to have complete recovery, but we’ll just have to monitor his workload as we get through that.”
In 60 games prior to the NBA stoppage on March 11, Bamba averaged 5.5 points 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 14.5 minutes per game (per 36 = 13.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.5 blocks).
Bamba said he put on upwards of 20 pounds during the NBA stoppage but he never got much of an opportunity to play at his new weight.
“Let me be just clear with Mo,” Weltman said. “Mo had really done a good job managing the hiatus. He had added weight, he had stayed in good condition, he entered our facility with a really good kind of baseline fitness level, and obviously our guys all had a time there to build on that for three or four weeks before we entered the bubble, and that was the plan with Mo...And then he contracted COVID. So, Mo, I think even in the bubble showed some flashes in some of the minutes he was able to play. But he was never quite able to turn the corner on his conditioning. So we obviously had him evaluated and we’re glad that we did because we were able to rule out anything long-term. But that being said, he did have some conditions that were brought about by contracting COVID.”
It was the second straight season that Bamba’s year ended early, with his rookie season being cut short due to a stress fracture in his leg.
“It is a setback,” Weltman said. “Unfortunately for Mo, summers, offseason times, they’re just worth their weight in gold for young guys. You just can’t get anything more valuable to young players than offseason time and Mo just hasn’t had that. He didn’t have it last year, he’s now going to have to wait to start ramping up this time. I don’t know if it’s a concern, it just is what it is. Mo’s been dealt really a bad hand so far, you know, but the great thing about Mo is he keeps coming back, he keeps fighting, he keeps working through and he’s got a great attitude and approach.
“He’ll just have to forge ahead. He’s got great ability. He’s still just beginning his career. He’s in the infancy stages of his career. His body is filling out and he’s already shown flashes when he’s been given the chance of becoming a good player. So that’s just what he’ll have to deal with, and we’ll go through that with him. And we have every confidence that he’ll come out the other end being a very good player for a long time.”