Bismack Biyombo

Eastern Notes: Kennard, Biyombo, Van Gundy, Tatum

Pistons swingman Luke Kennard has fully healed from the knee tendinitis that sidelined him for nearly three months before the season was suspended, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Kennard will have to wait until December to play again since the lottery-bound Pistons won’t be part of 22-team restart in Orlando. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension when this season ends.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets’ season is over and that means three of their players are now free agents, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes. Centers Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez and guard Dwayne Bacon will be on the market in October when free agency begins. Guard Malik Monk remains suspended indefinitely for violation of the NBA anti-drug policy, Bonnell adds. Monk was suspended in late February.
  • Tom Thibodeau is considered the front-runner for the Knicks head coaching job and Jeff Van Gundy says Thibodeau is misunderstood, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The longtime TV analyst and former Knicks coach made his comments during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “Unfortunately for him the perception of him on the sidelines as this gruff, nasty dude is not even close to who is he personally,” Van Gundy said. “Like, he is a great guy. He’s fun to be around. He’s enjoyable to be around, and he loves basketball.” 
  • NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely takes a close look on what Celtics fans should watch for when the season resumes, including whether Jayson Tatum can continue his breakout season.

Hornets Notes: Rozier, McDaniels, Martin

Terry Rozier, who joined the Hornets this past offseason, doesn’t have to fill Kemba Walker‘s shoes, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. The offensive doesn’t necessarily revolve around Rozier and the point guard is alright with that role.

“When you come to a new team, there are a lot of expectations when you get signed [to a big contract],” teammate Bismack Biyombo said. “He’s trusted the coaches and adapted to the system, which isn’t easy right away. And he has excelled.”

Here’s more from Charlotte:
  • Jalen McDaniels has been a pleasant surprise for the Hornets this season and lately, he’s been the first player off the bench for the squad, as Bonnell relays in a separate piece“We’ve said, ‘Here’s your role, here’s what we need from you. Go execute it’. And he’s doing that right now,” James Borrego said.
  • The buyouts of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams paved the way for McDaniels to see more playing time. with the Hornets. Bonnell notes in the same piece. MKG went to Dallas after his buyout agreement while Williams landed in Milwaukee.
  • The Hornets are impressed with undrafted free agent Caleb Martin, who has split his time between the NBA club and its G League affiliate. “For him to make it in this league, he’s going to have to make that 3-ball,” Borrego said (via Bonnell in a separate piece).  “He was really good offensively — attacked the rim, played with great pace, moved the ball. And he competes defensively. I’ve got Cody a little bit ahead of him defensively right now — that’s why we drafted him — but Caleb’s got the same length and size and tenacity.”

Hornets’ Biyombo Explains Decision To Pass On Buyout

Following last month’s trade deadline, the Hornets were more than willing to negotiate buyouts with their veterans on expiring contracts. Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were both bought out within days of the deadline and quickly caught on with new teams.

Veteran center Bismack Biyombo, whose four-year, $68MM contract will be up at season’s end, tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that he could have gotten a buyout and that he considered the possibility, noting that “a lot of (teams were) calling.” However, he opted to stick with the Hornets and play out the rest of his contract in Charlotte, explaining that he wanted to continue to be a veteran mentor as the team rebuilds.

“The house is on fire? Let’s find a way to fix it,” Biyombo said of the Hornets’ situation. “I think the way we have been competing shows a lot of character from a lot of guys.”

Biyombo, 27, has been out of the starting lineup and even out of the rotation at times this season, but he’s seeing regular minutes lately, averaging 8.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in his last seven games (20.5 MPG).

Although it’s probably too late for the Hornets, who are 5.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Nets, to make a run at the playoffs, Biyombo is happy to fill the leadership void that was created in Charlotte when longtime Hornets like Kemba Walker, Williams, and Kidd-Gilchrist departed.

“When things are not going right, everybody wants to run away. It’s human nature,” Biyombo said. “Instead of always seeing problems, sometimes you can see opportunity. So we lean on each other.”

Southeast Notes: Monk, Hornets, Capela, Heat

Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game, Hornets coach James Borrego pledged his support for Malik Monk, who has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug program, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Borrego said he hasn’t talked with Monk since the suspension was announced this morning.

“All of us face different things in life; it’s how you respond,” Borrego said. “It’s my belief, knowing Malik, that he’ll respond the right way. (The suspension) does put us in a bind. But in the end, this could be a very positive story. I look forward to talking to him.”

Bonnell points out that Monk has turned in some of the best performances of his career recently, averaging 17.8 PPG over the past 11 games while shooting 47% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. Tuesday marked the first start of his three-season career.

While Monk is unavailable, Bonnell expects more playing time for rookies Cody Martin and Caleb Martin and possibly an early return from the G League for Dwayne Bacon.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • It appears Borrego will give opportunities to all three of the Hornets‘ centers for the rest of the season, Bonnell tweets. Cody Zeller, who has appeared in 53 of the team’s 58 games, was active for tonight’s game but didn’t play. Bismack Biyombo got the start with Willy Hernangomez as his backup.
  • Clint Capela has shown progress with running and movement, but there’s still not a definite plan for his Hawks debut, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal Consitution. Capela, who was acquired from the Rockets at the trade deadline, is dealing with plantar fasciitis and a right calcaneus contusion. He will be re-evaluated on March 4. “He felt he came back too soon, and re-injured it, now he’s being cautious,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He thought it was a setback when he re-injured it as opposed to just coming back and taking his time and letting it completely heal.” 
  • The Heat still may be active on the buyout market, suggests Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. He mentions Solomon Hill, who has barely played since being acquired from the Grizzlies earlier this month, as a possible buyout candidate if Miami wants to open a roster spot. Winderman adds that the Heat can offer a portion of their mid-level or bi-annual exceptions, giving them an edge over teams that can only offer minimum contracts.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Clark, Nunn, Fultz

Allowing the contracts of Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to expire, rather than trading those impending free agents, might be the best course of action for the Hornets, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines.

The Hornets would have to take back comparable salary unless the team they’re dealing with has a large trade exception. The player or players they take back might have contracts that extend beyond this season and unless they figure into Charlotte’s long term plans, it would not be worth it, Bonnell continues. The Hornets’ players on expiring contracts wouldn’t bring back much more in future assets than a second-round pick anyway, Bonnell adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic forward Gary Clark hopes his defensive skills and rebounding will allow him to stick with the club, as he told David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders. Clark signed a 10-day contract after getting waived by the Rockets. “Just bringing some energy and knocking down shots. Being versatile defensively, being able to switch on multiple guys if need be, and use my athleticism,” Clark said. “Knocking down shots is one thing, but my activity on the glass on both ends has been solid.”
  • Kendrick Nunn‘s value to the Heat goes beyond his on-court production, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. Nunn is only making $1.4MM this season and $1.6MM next season and the Heat can an extend a low-cost $2.1MM qualifying offer in the summer of 2021 to make him a restricted free agent. He can then be re-signed above the salary cap after luring a quality free agent. That makes his current contract a major bargain by providing the team plenty of cap flexibility.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is pleased that 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has revived his career with the Magic after his struggles in Philadelphia, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic tweets. “From a human standpoint, with complete sincerity, you’re happy for him,” Brown said. “It’s a journey that none of us could have imagined and good for him. Like he didn’t blink, he kept moving forward and I wish him well.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Allen Crabbe, Hawks, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $74.8MM deal in 2016
Remember when the Nets thought so highly of Crabbe they signed him to a giant offer sheet? And the Trail Blazers valued him so much they matched the offer sheet? And then Brooklyn wanted him so badly it traded for Crabbe the following summer? It all seems so silly now. The Nets were willing to give up two future first-rounders to get rid of Crabbe. Now in the final year of that odious contract, he’s averaging 5.0 PPG and shooting 28.8% from 3-point range. Crabbe will probably be looking at veteran’s minimum offers next season as he attempts to reboot his career.

Bismack Biyombo, Hornets, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $72MM deal in 2016
Like Crabbe, Biyombo got silly money in the summer of 2016 after a solid playoff performance with Toronto. Orlando quickly got a case of buyer’s remorse and he was eventually shipped to Charlotte in 2018. To his credit, Biyombo has worked his way into the rebuilding Hornets’ rotation. He’s posted double digits in points six times this month while averaging 8.0 RPG in 22.1 MPG. Traditional big men like Biyombo are being phased out of the league, so he won’t attract a lot of interest. But he’s shown he can be a rotation piece somewhere.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 27, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016
Another player who cashed in during the summer of 2016, Leonard has never averaged more than 8.4 PPG or 5.1 RPG. Other than avid Heat fans, few people realize that Leonard has started 30 games for one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. He doesn’t often finish games but he’s endeared himself enough to coach Erik Spoelstra to keep his spot in the lineup. Leonard doesn’t shoot a lot of threes but he makes them (48.3%). He’s also making an impact on the boards (23 in the last two games). As a stretch four alone, Leonard will draw interest as an unrestricted free agent.

D.J. Augustin, Magic, 32, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $29MM deal in 2016
Markelle Fultz is playing regularly but Augustin is still receiving steady playing time from coach Steve Clifford. Augustin threw in a two-point clunker against Chicago on Monday but in his previous four games he averaged 18.5 PPG and 5.3 APG. While Augustin’s overall shooting numbers are down, he can still be a productive rotation player. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Orlando brought back Augustin in a reserve role. If not, he still has enough left in the tank to be someone’s backup floor leader.

Davis Bertans, Wizards, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.5MM deal in 2018
Bertans was enjoying a breakout season until he was sidelined recently by a quad injury. Bertans was averaging 15.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 30.0 MPG while mostly coming off the bench for Washington. The Wizards have been feeding Bertans to ball beyond the arc and he’s consistently delivered, averaging 43.4% from deep on a whopping 8.6 attempts per game. Bertans’ prolific long range shooting is bound to get the unrestricted free agent some lucrative offers in this summer’s weak free agent class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hornets Notes: Biyombo, Bacon, Kaminsky

Bismack Biyombo‘s four-year, $68MM contract has been viewed for years as an albatross, but as that deal nears its end, the Hornets aren’t simply waiting for it to expire. In a regular role off the bench this season, the veteran center has played some of the best ball of his career, averaging a career-best 7.8 PPG with 4.0 RPG in just 16.2 MPG.

While Biyombo won’t get another contract like the one he signed in 2016, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer doesn’t believe a new deal with the Hornets is out of the realm of possibility. On a more modest salary, the 27-year-old big man could be a fit as a rim-protecting center off the bench, and it sounds like he’s open to the idea of remaining in Charlotte beyond the 2019/20 season.

“I love it here. This is my home — I started here,” Biymobo said. “Seeing the organization move in the right direction, seeing guys succeed (matters).”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Dwayne Bacon has had an up-and-down season so far, having fallen out of the starting lineup – and the rotation – since the Hornets’ first 10 games. However, the young shooting guard, who can be a restricted free agent at season’s end, is staying positive as he looks to earn another opportunity, Bonnell writes for The Charlotte Observer. “I think I have the perfect mindset to play 15 years in the NBA, because I can accept every obstacle and I’m always going to be ready. I don’t come with ego,” Bacon said. “I’m the same guy every day: I smile like I just scored 30 points. When you have an ego in this sport, you won’t get far. If I came in here all mad, thinking ‘Oh, you guys are playing and I’m not,’ that’s just selfish of me. I know this is going to come around.”
  • In another article for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell explores what we’ve learned about the Hornets based on the first quarter of the club’s season.
  • After spending his first four NBA seasons with the Hornets, Frank Kaminsky is uncertain about how to feel playing against his old team as a member of the Suns tonight, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The former lottery pick said he would try to treat it like just “another game” but admitted it was a new experience for him.

Hornets Notes: Graham, Monk, Hernangomez, Washington

Devonte’ Graham is outplaying free agent addition Terry Rozier through the first two games, but the Hornets‘ best option might be to use them together, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Graham, a second-year guard, is Charlotte’s leading scorer at 23.5 PPG while sinking 12-of-16 shots from beyond the arc. He’s also handing out three assists for every turnover.

The Hornets gave Rozier $58MM over three seasons this summer, so they don’t plan to take him out of the starting lineup. While Graham will likely remain a reserve, coach James Borrego expects to utilize them together in a smaller backcourt, especially while Nicolas Batum is sidelined with a broken finger. He took a similar approach last season, frequently closing games with Kemba Walker and Tony Parker on the floor.

“We can play them together,” Borrego said. “We can play Terry off the ball some with Te’ out there. We’ll look at that lineup.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Even though Malik Monk has been disappointing, the Hornets had to pick up his fourth-year option to preserve his trade value, Bonnell writes in a mailbag column. A lottery pick in 2017, Monk hasn’t developed  the way the Hornets had hoped. He’s shooting 37.6% from the field for his career and is averaging just 3.5 PPG so far this season. Still, a $5.3MM commitment for next season shouldn’t be significant, as general manager Mitch Kupchak has said the team won’t be aggressive in the 2020 free agent market.
  • Large salaries will make Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist difficult to trade this season, but there might be demand for Willy Hernangomez, Bonnell notes in the same piece. The fourth-year center has a minimal expiring salary of $1.68MM, and Bonnell believes the Hornets would part with him for a second-round pick. He adds that there may be more value in letting Biyombo’s $17MM contract and Kidd-Gilchrist’s $13MM deal expire to open cap room for the future.
  • PJ Washington is looking like the draft gem the Hornets needed to give them hope for the future, notes Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation.

Hornets Rumors: Kemba, Vets, Future Plans, McDaniels

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer that the team was somewhat blindsided by Kemba Walker earning All-NBA honors and becoming eligible for a super-max contract earlier this year. Although Walker wasn’t demanding the full super-max (approximately $221MM over five years), the gap between what he sought and what Charlotte was willing to offer was too significant to bridge the gap.

“We had great years with him, and we didn’t get into the playoffs,” Kupchak said of the All-Star point guard. “What makes us think that next year (would) be different? I’ve got to step back and look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Chart out a course that gives us the best chance to build something that is sustainable for more than a year or two.”

The Hornets have faced criticism for not getting what they could for Walker in a pre-deadline trade in February, but Kupchak tells Bonnell that the club was confident in its chances of re-signing Kemba at that point and wasn’t impressed with the offers it received on the trade market.

“Almost every offer revolved around draft picks. It was always lottery-protected,” Kupchak said. “When you do something like that, you’re saying you’re going to draft a player in the teens, we don’t know how good he’s going to be, and it’s going to take three or four years (to realize value). We wanted to keep Kemba — under the right conditions.”

We don’t know the specifics on what the Hornets were offered for Walker, so we’ll take Kupchak at his word that those offers didn’t provide enough value to be worthwhile.

Still, it’s fair to take the front office to task for the assertion that it didn’t see Walker’s All-NBA nod and super-max eligibility coming. The former UConn standout scored 41 points on opening night last fall and played at an elite level all season, singlehandedly keeping Charlotte in the playoff hunt. To claim the team was blindsided by Kemba’s super-max eligibility is either disingenuous or signals a worrisome lack of foresight.

Here’s more from Bonnell on the Hornets:

  • Head coach James Borrego is under no obligation to give significant minutes to Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will earn a combined $85MM in 2019/20. “I’m not going to coach a team based on contracts, what you’re making, where you were drafted, if you were drafted,” Borrego said. “To me, that’s not my job. My job is to get the most out of them, whether they were drafted or not drafted.”
  • While those veterans will get a chance to compete for roles, Borrego wants to make sure the team’s young prospects play consistent minutes, either in Charlotte or in the G League. “We’re not going to have draft picks on our bench who are just sitting there,” the head coach told Bonnell. “If they’re not playing meaningful minutes for us in Charlotte, I promise you they will be playing minutes in Greensboro.”
  • The Hornets “didn’t even contemplate” using their mid-level exception this offseason, according to Kupchak, who explained to Bonnell that no one in that price range would have “changed the course of this organization.”
  • The Hornets also won’t rely on free agency going forward to reshape their roster, preferring instead to use any future cap flexibility to re-sign young players or to accommodate trades. “Free agent signings, for us, are not something we need to concentrate on going forward. We’re not going to get the ‘Big Fish,'” Kupchak said. “We have to create a culture where those kinds of players would want to come here. And, quite frankly, we’re not there yet. For us to hoard cap room (for that purpose) is not in the best interest of the organization.”
  • In a tweet, Bonnell adds a couple more Hornets-related items, reporting that there’s no indication the club is involved in ongoing trade talks that would jettison a veteran contract. Additionally, Charlotte would like to get unsigned second-rounder Jalen McDaniels locked up in a developmental role, per Bonnell. It sounds like the team’s preference may be for McDaniels to sign a G League contract.

Hornets Notes: Luxury Tax, Kemba, Lamb, Rookies

With more than $94MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for the 2019/20 season, without taking into account a potential maximum-salary contract ($32.7MM) for Kemba Walker, the Hornets look like a potential taxpayer for next year. However, speaking early Friday morning to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak made it sound as if being in the tax isn’t an option for the franchise.

“I would not anticipate that is something we would look to do,” Kupchak said of paying the tax. “There are ways to increase (the distance from the luxury-tax threshold). It’s important we address that as soon as possible. Everybody needs to get on and plan.”

As Bonnell observes, there are multiple paths the Hornets could take to stay out of the tax. They have a handful of highly-paid veterans on expiring contracts, so waiving-and-stretching a player like Bismack Biyombo ($17MM) could be one option. The team could also try trading someone like Marvin Williams ($15MM).

Of course, not re-signing key free agents like Walker and Jeremy Lamb is also a possibility, though I expect the team to do all it can to retain Kemba. Lamb may receive an offer in the neighborhood of $12MM per year from another club, Bonnell writes.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Re-signing Walker would have a domino effect on what the Hornets could do with the rest of their roster, Kupchak acknowledged (via Bonnell): “You’re talking about a substantial contract that goes out many years. When that happens, it creates some financial inflexibility that you have to deal with We have to be mindful of a Kemba contract, should we be lucky enough to re-sign him. There could be limitations (on other roster moves), absolutely.”
  • Kupchak recently indicated that the Hornets are probably unlikely to use their $7.8MM trade exception from last summer’s Dwight Howard trade due to tax concerns, tweets Bonnell. That exception expires on July 6.
  • The Hornets plan on having all three of the rookies they drafted on Thursday – PJ Washington, Cody Martin, and Jalen McDaniels – spend time in the G League in 2019/20, Kupchak said (per Bonnell).
  • In a column for The Charlotte Observer, Bonnell explores how much added pressure the Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis and interest in Kemba Walker will put on the Hornets.