NBA Rumor: Bismack Biyombo Free Agency

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Biyombo’s agent, former Hornets guard B.J. Armstrong, said Biyombo not participating is simply that he’s months from unrestricted free-agency. “Biz loves Charlotte, and he has a great relationship with his coach (James Borrego) and Mitch” Kupchak, the Hornets’ general manager, Armstrong said. “Short answer: He’s a free agent.” Biyombo’s contract expires after the NBA playoffs conclude. He has said he’d like to stay in Charlotte and Kupchak praised his play in a mid-season appraisal in January.

Bismack Biyombo wants to stay in Charlotte

Biyombo was never that with the Magic, and had a limited role last season back in Charlotte. But he holds deep affection for the place where the NBA began for him. “I love it here. This is my home — I started here,” Biyombo answered, when I asked if he’d be receptive to playing in Charlotte beyond this season. “Seeing the organization move in the right direction, seeing guys succeed (matters). “When Kemba (Walker) and I came in, we had the worst record in the league” — 7-59 in 2011-12.

Bismack Biyombo: He blew up in the playoffs, and he certainly will decline his $3 million player option for next season. In a league where going small is emphasized over size, Biyombo is both. He’s 6-9 and is strong enough to play center (listed as a power forward) and has elite shot-blocking ability to protect the rim and he’s agile enough to switch out onto guards on pick-and-rolls. Biyombo’s value, as a result, has skyrocketed despite not being much of an offensive threat outside of garbage putbacks. He’ll cost $15 million to $17 million, one front office exec told CSNmidatlantic.com. That’ll price him out of D.C. as long as Gortat ($12 million per) remains. A big with Biyombo’s skill set as a backup at center, however, is ideal.

He stressed how important this offseason was for the Raptors, and his desire to get back in the gym and go to work, stating that he wants to focus on basketball and not on contract negotiations. “I have the right people in my corner to handle that,” Biyombo said, “so I’m not concerned about it. One thing I’m thankful for is the opportunity I was given here. The whole season as we faced ups and downs [but] my teammates allow me to be myself and play my game. It was so much fun to be around my teammates, be around the city. I’m expecting for myself to be back here and I believe I have the right people to get it done.”

Why was Bismack Biyombo available to the Raptors last summer? The rebounding and defensive machine was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Hornets. The club ran out of patience with Biyombo, who was considered a major offensive liability with poor hands. It’s a prime example of the risk teams take by giving up on players prematurely. Biyombo could demand as much as $17 million in the free agent market this summer after he chooses to opt out of the final year of his contract that pays him $2.94 million.

Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, a backup the entire regular season who is making $2.8 million for 2015-16, will surely opt out of his contract this summer and land a deal worth at least $16 million per year because of his breakout postseason, according to a league source. According to Hoopshype.com, Biyombo, a defensive and rebounding stalwart with a limited offensive skill set, is the 23rd-best potential free agent on the market this summer. Beal is ninth on that list, which includes players with contract options, such as all-stars LeBron James and Andre Drummond, who are not expected to test the market.

It also helps that some well-heeled and high-profile teams will be in need of a center who brings rim protection this summer. Boston GM Danny Ainge said that would be among the Celtics’ top targets, and Boston will be a team with interest in Biyombo. So will the Lakers, as they are known to be eagerly seeking a defensive big man to put with Julius Randle in the frontcourt. That won’t be all, of course. Chicago or Houston — attractive big markets — might well need a center this summer, and Biyombo would fit with a burgeoning young playoff team like Portland. What’s most critical is that the team landing Biyombo has the confidence in him to make him a starter. The money he will warrant will make him too expensive to bench.

“For someone like (Biyombo), I think when you look at a guy like Tyson Chandler and what he got from Phoenix last summer (four years, $52 million), that’s where you start for a contract,” one Eastern Conference GM told Sporting News. “But you factor in the cap spike and it’s probably going to be high, I’d say, $16-17 million. It’ll be a heck of a $17 million-per-year gamble.” That’s a sizable raise for a guy the Raptors signed for two years and less than $6 million last summer, with a player option this year. It’s also a gamble on a player who averaged 5.5 points and 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game this year — though only in 22.2 minutes.

This is also the year of the free agent on the Toronto sports landscape. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion aren’t signed beyond this season. DeMar DeRozan and Dwane Casey aren’t signed beyond this season. And Biyombo, who has brought a defensive presence, a rebounding acumen, a toughness to a Raptors team in need of all that, won’t commit beyond this coming playoff season right now. “I’m going to make it very hard for him,” said Masai Ujiri, the Raptors general manager and a fellow African. “I’m going to try and do whatever I can to get it done. There are going to be other people who want this player. My job is to try and get it done.”
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