Southwest Notes: Biyombo, Osman, Sengun, Grizzlies

The Grizzlies signed Bismack Biyombo to a one-year, $5MM deal with a $1MM guarantee on Wednesday rather than the $3MM prorated veteran’s minimum. Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (Twitter link) that if the Grizzlies had signed him to a minimum deal, he would have earned around $920K from now until late December, when Ja Morant‘s suspension is lifted, which is roughly the same guarantee he’ll make on the current contract.

Memphis was able to sign Biyombo because Morant is suspended for 25 games and was transferred to the suspended list. When Morant’s suspension is lifted on December 19, the Grizzlies will have to waive a player on their roster, which could be Biyombo. By signing the big man to these terms, the Grizzlies are creating extra roster flexibility moving forward.

Marks also points out Biyombo has a $5MM cap hit (rather than $1.9MM) and the Grizzlies can use his $5MM contract as a trade asset if he remains on the roster after Morant’s suspension is lifted. Biyombo would become trade-eligible on Feb. 2.

As we noted Thursday, if Biyombo were to prove too valuable to waive, Memphis would have to let go of another player on a guaranteed deal to keep him on the roster after Morant returns from suspension.

Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian adds (Twitter link) that if the Grizzlies were to use Biyombo’s $5MM salary for trading purposes, they’d be able to bring in up to $10MM in returning salaries.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs forward Cedi Osman is off to a strong start to the season, averaging 11.8 points per game and helping San Antonio grab a couple early wins. Osman is one of the older players on a young Spurs team and is becoming a go-to guy for the club, Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes (Subscriber link). “He is like our seasoned pro on this team,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He understands how to play, plays with emotion and aggressiveness, works hard at both ends of the court. He has really been a good example for all the younger players.” Osman is shooting 56.3% on his catch-and-shoot looks this season, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko points out in a separate piece.
  • In that same story, Iko explores how Rockets center Alperen Sengun is becoming the “heartbeat” of the Rockets offense. Sengun ranks in the 100th percentile in usage-to-assist rate and popped in the Rockets’ pass-heavy game plan against the Hornets on Nov. 1. “Team play is always better,” Sengun said. “[Wednesday], we had 35 assists or something. That’s the key. Every game should be like that, I think. When we share the ball, everyone is happy. I’m happy we’re playing better.
  • The Grizzlies are currently the only winless team in the NBA, having lost their first five games, but they’re trying to remain unfazed by their slow start, according to Michael Wallace of Grind City Media. “You can’t get too high; can’t get too low because it’s a long season,Marcus Smart said. “We’ve got to lock in a bit more down the stretch on the defensive end. It’s part of the learning process, part of coming into something new for everybody. For us, it’s just to keep going. Eventually, the tide is going to turn. Things are going to click. It’s just taking some time right now.Luke Kennard and Santi Aldama, who are both out with injury, are expected back soon, according to Wallace.
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