Mo Bamba

Magic's Mo Bamba gushes about Tacko Fall, who might play in Orlando homecoming

Magic's Mo Bamba gushes about Tacko Fall, who might play in Orlando homecoming

Enes Kanter's injury came at a poor time for the Boston Celtics. But Tacko Fall probably isn't complaining.

The Celtics recalled Fall from the G-League affiliate Maine Red Claws on Friday morning, meaning the 7-foot-5 rookie will be with the team in Orlando for its game against the Magic (after a little detour, per NBA reporter Keith Smith).

Fall knows Orlando well, as he played college basketball at the University of Central Florida, just down the road from the Amway Center.

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He also knows Orlando's tallest player well. Mo Bamba, the Magic's 7-foot big man, became friends with Fall through Fall's former UCF teammate Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia, who is close with Bamba.

Bamba even recommended last summer that Fall work with shooting specialist Drew Hanlen, who has helped the Senegal native become more than just the tallest guy on the court.

Bamba told reporters ahead of Friday's Celtics-Magic game he still keeps in touch with Fall.

"Every now and then, I’ll hit him up and call him or text him and check him and make sure he’s doing all right up there in cold Boston," Bamba said, via OrlandoMagic.com's John Denton.

"He’s just a really good guy. His character speaks loudly for the type of person he is. (The fan reaction he gets) is kind of expected … everyone loves Tacko. Not only is he a big person, but he really does have a big personality. He’s a good guy."

Fall made a brief cameo during Boston's preseason game in Orlando in October, but he may get some actual minutes Friday with Kanter and Robert Williams both sidelined due to injury.

After all, someone needs to match up with the 7-foot Bamba -- and the Amway Center crowd needs something to cheer about.

"I trust him to give us minutes if we need them," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of Fall earlier Friday.

"I also know that there'll be plenty of green because we travel well. There'll be Celtics fans cheering for him and some UCF fans. It'll be 100 percent Tacko fans."

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Patience, promise highlight early play of Magic's Mo Bamba

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USA Today Sports Photo

Patience, promise highlight early play of Magic's Mo Bamba

BOSTON -- So much of what goes into drafting a player comes down to their potential to play at a high level in the NBA.

The Orlando Magic know this all too well with a roster full of unproven but talented youngsters, which includes their first-round pick from last June’s NBA draft, Mo Bamba.

The Magic organization is all-in on his potential and promise to be a very good player in the NBA. But they are not the least bit disillusioned about the fact that despite all that promise, he’s just not ready yet to play starter-like minutes in the NBA.

“He’s not going to be ready this year to play 32 minutes,” said Magic coach Steve Clifford. “Again, at his age for where he’s at physically, he’s not capable of playing 30 minutes.”

But make no mistake about it: The 20-year-old center will be on the floor tonight when the Magic take on the Boston Celtics.

And while he may not be playing a huge amount of minutes, to his credit he has made the most of the minutes he is given.

He comes into tonight’s game averaging 19.3 minutes played per game, which ranks 12th among rookies this season. He's getting decent production out of his minutes, evident by his work on the boards where he's grabbing 4.3 per game which ranks sixth in the league among first-year players.

Bamba seems at peace with his minutes being limited in comparison to some other players taken near the top of the draft board.

“It’s a little different for me,” said Bamba, taken by Orlando with the sixth overall pick in last June’s NBA draft. “Luckily, I have a role on this team which I’m grateful to fulfill.”

And that role is . . . 

“It’s more sponge-like,” Bamba said. “Whatever the team needs . . . I gravitate towards what we need.”

And while it remains to be seen how that plays out now, it is part of the seed-planting by the Magic to eventually field a team that would boast one of the strongest, most versatile frontcourts in the NBA that would include Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Bamba.

Magic general manager John Hammond recognizes the need to strike a balance between being patient with the development of Mamba, while making sure Orlando does all it can this season in order to make the playoffs.

“There is a balance,” Hammond told NBC Sports Boston. “But in today’s world, it’s what have you done for me not lately, but today.”

And as far as Bamba is concerned, “We want a lot out of him,” said Hammond, who added, “We want him to go out and perform at a high level each night, and he does. But we have to be patient. To a certain extent we don’t want him to be patient. We want him to be the aggressor; we want him to believe and believe that he can do it sooner rather than later.”

A big part of that has to do with having success on the floor, something that wouldn’t necessarily happen if Bamba were being asked to play significantly more minutes.

And while Bamba would love to play more, he seems to understand that his time to play major minutes isn’t right now.

“I think he has a great attitude,” Clifford said. “From what I see is, in practice and games, he understands totally where he’s at. He’s very bright. He understands where he’s at. The thing that I love about him, is what he’s trying to do is take advantage of the minutes he gets. He badly wants to do well and has incredible potential. There’s nothing not to like.”

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Ainge not exactly blown away by this draft

Ainge not exactly blown away by this draft

If the Celtics are indeed interested in trading up for Texas big man Mo Bamba, Danny Ainge isn’t about to say, of course. In fact, he downplayed the quality of this year’s draft in a WEEI interview Friday.

“It’s a good draft. It’s not a special, special draft. But it’s a very good draft,” Ainge said on WEEI’s “Dale and Keefe” show. “I think it’s got some decent depth. I wouldn't say it’s one of the better ones or one of the worst ones. It’s a normal draft. But we’re excited about who we can potentially add late in the draft.”

The Sporting News reported the Celtics’ possible interest in Bamba this week. He’s likely to go in the third-to-sixth range, so Boston, with the 27th pick, would have to trade up to get him - with speculation centering on Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier being among the players who could be moved. 

Those two can be considered “core guys” but when asked if he plans on returning the same team that lost in seven games to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, Ainge answered: “Probably not the entire team, but the main core guys, sure.”

Ainge couldn’t say a lot about the controversy surrounding Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and burner Twitter accounts, he did wonder why a GM would need to tweet anonymously.

"I think my wife just signed up for Twitter. We’ll have to check that,” Ainge said. “But, I’m still trying to figure out the value of a burner account. … I still haven’t figured out that value yet."

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