Earlier this month, the Orlando Magic lost promising young big man Jonathan Isaac for the rest of the season, and at least part of next, due to a torn ACL. Now, they'll be without another member of the frontcourt for their playoff run. Early on Friday afternoon, the team announced that Mo Bamba is leaving the bubble.
"On the advice of the Magic's human performance staff and team physicians, Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba has left the NBA campus for a comprehensive post-Coronavirus evaluation," the team wrote in a statement. "Bamba will be out for the remainder of the season. Bamba was originally diagnosed with COVID-19 back on June 11."
It's not clear exactly what caused the Magic to send Bamba home in order to be evaluated, but he explained in an interview with The Athletic that his original diagnosis, along with some false positives upon arriving in the bubble, meant he was unable to get on the court for an entire month. That, in turn, led to a sharp decline in his conditioning.
"It was a pretty big setback without any access to the facility when things were ramping back up and guys were getting back in and we were kind of starting to feel like the restart was real," Bamba said.
Out of game shape, and having missed so much practice time, Bamba was relegated to a smaller role in the bubble. He played in only two of Orlando's eight games, registering zero points and three rebounds in 10 minutes. Unlikely to get any more action once the playoffs begin next week, the medical staff apparently decided he would be better served by shutting things down for the season, and preparing for the future.
With Bamba already out of the rotation, this decision won't have any impact on the Magic's playoff situation, which is already pretty grim. Finishing as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, they have to play Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, and will do so without their best defensive player in Isaac. Even winning a game will be an impressive feat.
But in terms of the bigger picture, hopefully, everything checks out with Bamba, and he's ready to go for next season. Hearing a player needs a "comprehensive post-Coronavirus evaluation" after they were initially given the all clear to resume playing is definitely a bit concerning. Especially considering the long-term effects of COVID-19 can be quite serious, and aren't fully understood.