As a part of our ongoing series detailing which players the Charlotte Hornets should target during free agency, today our attention shifts to the Orlando Magic. The Magic finished last in the Eastern Conference with a record of 22-60. Despite the poor record, Orlando has many of their pieces for the future, and when coupled with a high draft pick in 2022, they could get back on the winning track relatively quickly.
The Magic have quite a few players entering free agency in 2022. Gary Harris, Mohamed Bamba, Robin Lopez, Bol Bol, Admiral Schofield, and Ignas Brazdeikis are all entering the free agent pool this offseason. Harris and Lopez are set to become unrestricted free agents, and Bamba, Bol, Schofield, and Brazdeikis are heading to the restricted market.
Among these players, Brazdeikis and Schofield should not be high priority targets for the Hornets. Next, Bol and Lopez could fill Charlotte’s need for a big man, but they are too raw and too old, respectively, to make the significant impact that the Hornets are looking for in 2022-23.
Harris is a name that will swirl around free agency for quite some time. Although there is no chance that he will match the $21 million he earned in 2021-22, Harris is a capable shooter and wing defender. If the Hornets could sign him at a heavily discounted price, I could see Harris swinging over to Charlotte for a season or two. Despite having eight years of experience, he is just turning 28 in 2022, and he could provide excellent backup minutes at either the shooting guard or small forward spots.
The real kicker is Bamba. Although he is entering free agency as a restricted free agent, the Hornets should probably extend an offer to him in the offseason. He is almost 24-years-old and has amazing athletic ability and untapped potential. As an elite shot-blocker, Bamba could slide into the Hornets’ starting lineup as a defense-first big. With the money saved in signing Bamba rather than a bigger-name free agent, Charlotte could ensure the core of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges stays together.
Overall, Bamba is the Magic player that would make the most sense for the Hornets to go after in free agency. The real challenge is going to be figuring out how much to offer for a player that has yet to live up to his potential. If Charlotte can toe the line and snag the big man, they should be able to make quite a few more moves in the 2022 offseason.