Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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INDIANAPOLIS — Timofey Mozgov sat at the first stall in the visiting locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night. Sitting down practically unnoticed, it’s hard to remember that he is the massive 7-foot-1 and 275-pound center.
After starting his career with a brief stint on the New York Knicks, he found a home in Denver on the Nuggets becoming a solid scorer and rebounder. At one point he was so valuable, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a move in LeBron James’ first season back in Cleveland to acquire him.
The Russian big man would play in two different Finals before singing a massive $64 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers during the summer of 2016. Since the signing of that deal, Mozgov has become more of a trade filler/salary dump than a contributor.
However, after a brief stop with the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets, he now finds himself on a young Orlando Magic team battling for the playoffs. Unfortunately, because of knee surgery he has not appeared in a game this season, but is still making his impact felt off the court.
“I wish I could play right now to help the team,” he told Amico Hoops. “I try to help the guys as much as I can.”
Evidence of his presence was seen during the interview. The Magic’s sixth overall pick last summer, Mo Bamba (who is also hurt right now) stuck his head into the interview to listen to what Mozgov had to say. The two shared a few laughs, and when Mozgov was asked what he has done to help Bamba, Mozgov directed the question to Mamba.
“Nothing,” Bamba told Amico Hoops with a huge smile. “He takes me out, we go partying, we miss practice.”
Bamba was obviously joking, but just because they have that kind of relationship shows how open the environment is. The Magic sit just one game outside of the playoffs in the Eastern Confernce, an amazing accomplishment in its own right.
Mozgov also shed light into what he thinks is going on with his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers and former teammate James.
“Guys get hurt and stuff like that,” Mozgov said of the Lakers “They’re in their first year together. I don’t think we have to be petty or be talking about, ‘What’s going on in LA or like this is LeBron’s fault, the coaches fault’ or whatever. This is basketball. Sometimes teams don’t expect what fans do, you know, don’t do what fans expect.”
Some players have been rumored to not want to play with James, while some have gone out of their way to take less money or go along for what usually is a free ride to the Finals.
“I like playing with LeBron,” Mozgov said. “It’s simple for me. If you don’t, you don’t.”