Since the playoffs began back in mid-April, no player has done more to help himself in free agency than Raptors center Bismack Biyombo.
Stuck in a back-up role behind Jonas Valanciunas, Biyombo averaged 5.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during the regular season. But Valanciunas’ badly sprained ankle and Biyombo’s huge performance in his place have made the 6’9″ native of the Congo one of this summer’s most talked-about free agents.
Two months ago, the Raptors were hoping Biyombo would waive his player option and accept a $2.94MM contract for next season. But he demolished any chance of that with a 26-rebound, four-block performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. On the heels of a 17-point, 16-rebound effort in Game 7 against Miami, it established Biyombo as a dominant paint presence who was at his best when the games mattered most.
After Toronto’s season ended Friday, Biyombo announced his intention to opt out, a decision that could earn him more than five times the salary that he leaves behind. With a rising cap and a shortage of quality big men, it won’t be surprising if a team offers him a deal that starts at more than $16MM per year.
The situation was unthinkable when Biyombo signed with Toronto last summer. He was close to being a bust during his four seasons in Charlotte, averaging more than 27 minutes per game just once and topping 5 points per game only in his rookie season. That’s why the Raptors were able to get him cheaply, giving him about $3MM for this season, plus next year’s player option.
Biyombo’s sudden good fortune has put Toronto in a bind. Because his contract was so short, the Raptors don’t own Biyombo’s Bird rights, which means whatever money they offer him has to come out of cap room. Assuming DeMar DeRozan opts out, Toronto will have a little more than $70MM in salary for next season against an estimated $92MM cap. Unless they renounce DeRozan or gut the roster through trades, it’s hard to see how the Raptors get close to a $16MM offer.
Earlier today, Biyombo said he prefers to stay with in Toronto, but that might change once he studies the economic realities of the situation. No matter what personal feelings Biyombo may have for the city and the organization, he’s likely to end up with the highest bidder.
That brings us to tonight’s question, which is a two-parter: Where do you expect to see Biyombo playing next season and will he be able to live up to a giant contract? No matter how much the NBA moves to smaller lineups and 3-point shooting, there will always be a demand for rebounders and shot blockers. And with the cap soaring this summer, almost every team will have the money to offer at least one max contract.
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.