Bismack Biyombo

Southwest Notes: H. Jones, Grizzlies, A. Holiday, Lively

Pelicans wing Herbert Jones wants to make sure he doesn’t take his foot off the gas pedal this season after signing a four-year, $54MM deal as a restricted free agent over the summer, according to Christian Clark of

I think the biggest thing for me was after I signed, I never got complacent,” Jones said. “I know it’s not the most somebody has signed for in the NBA. But it’s still a lot of money.

A lot of people, once they get to the first one, a lot of guys back off the gas a little bit. I just wanted to continue to work hard and show my true love for the game. There really was no dollar amount that could slow the grind down.”

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Jones is off to a pretty remarkable start on that end of the court in 2023/24, especially from a play-making perspective. As Clark notes, Jones is currently averaging 2.1 steals and 1.6 blocks per game, trailing only Anthony Davis in “stocks” (steals plus blocks).

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details how Jaren Jackson Jr. helped Bismack Biyombo quickly acclimate to the Grizzlies, writing that the two big men had a preexisting relationship, as they’re both vice presidents of the National Basketball Players Association. Following a season-ending knee injury to Steven Adams, the Grizzlies signed Biyombo once Ja Morant was placed on the suspended list. The Congolese center has played a prominent role for the injury-ravaged team, starting eight of his nine games while averaging 7.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 1.1 BPG in 25.1 MPG. “He can fit in any locker room,” Jackson said of Biyombo. “He’s a great leader. That’s why he’s doing what he does for his country and does what he does for the union. I know how much he cares about the league. That care carries over to the locker room.”
  • Rockets guard Aaron Holiday, a free agent addition over the offseason, has been playing a regular role with No. 4 overall pick Amen Thompson sidelined due to an ankle sprain, writes Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “He’s a guy that can play on and off the ball,” head coach Ime Udoka said of Holiday. “Stronger, tougher than his size and then also shoots the ball well, so he’s been invaluable to us with the guys out. He’s been really good lately.”
  • In a conversation with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Mavericks first-rounder Dereck Lively touched on his influences, his rookie season thus far, and playing with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, among other topics. Lively will be sidelined for Friday’s matchup against the Clippers due to a lower back contusion he sustained on Wednesday vs. the Lakers, per the NBA’s official injury report.

Southwest Notes: Eason, Brooks, Biyombo, Wemby

Rockets forward Tari Eason is nearing a return from the leg injury that has sidelined him for the first two weeks of the 2022/23 season, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). According to Feigen, head coach Ime Udoka said on Monday that Eason will practice on Tuesday and could be cleared to play in Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers.

The second-year forward missed the Rockets’ final three preseason games and has been out for the club’s first six regular season contests due to a stress reaction in his left leg. Eason is one of Houston’s stronger defenders, so the team – which is riding a three-game winning streak – could use benefit from his presence on the wing.

“He’s a guy that kind of comes up with everything all the time,” Udoka said of Eason last week. “A great offensive rebounder. Just some grit and toughness that he brings. I think that physicality, obviously, is beneficial for our group. He does some things that are very instinctual and natural for him that we stressed.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • While he’s known for his defense, offseason addition Dillon Brooks is providing the Rockets with solid offensive play in the early going this season, Feigen writes in another subscriber-only story for The Houston Chronicle. Brooks has posted a scorching hot .593/.565/.938 shooting line through his first six games in Houston.
  • In his second game with the Grizzlies on Sunday, Bismack Biyombo was the team’s starting center, replacing Xavier Tillman (knee) and logging 26 minutes. The big man helped Memphis secure its first win of the season by putting up eight points, 11 rebounds four assists, and three blocked shots. Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the story on Biyombo’s instant impact in the middle.
  • The Grizzlies signed Biyombo to his one-year, $5MM contract using a portion of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. The Grizzlies also could have signed Biyombo using a disabled player exception if they were granted one for Steven Adams‘ season-ending knee injury, but there has been no confirmation yet that the team has been approved for a DPE for Adams.
  • The Spurs have a 110.9 defensive rating when Victor Wembanyama is on the court compared to a disastrous 129.4 mark when he sits, a remarkable split for a rookie, albeit in a small sample. Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link) and Kelly Iko of The Athletic take a closer look at the impact that the No. 1 pick is having on defense for San Antonio.

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.

Bismack Biyombo Signs With Grizzlies

NOVEMBER 2: Following their fifth game of the season on Wednesday, the Grizzlies have moved Morant to the suspended list and officially signed Biyombo, the team confirmed in a press release (Twitter link).

Biyombo received a one-year, $5MM contract with a $1MM guarantee, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 28: The Grizzlies will add veteran center Bismack Biyombo, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Memphis will be able to transfer Ja Morant to the suspended list after he serves five games of his 25-game suspension, and Charania suggests the signing will occur once that happens. The Grizzlies are off to an 0-3 start with upcoming games Monday against Dallas and Wednesday at Utah.

The 31-year-old Biyombo will provide an interior presence for a team playing without starting center Steven Adams, who will undergo knee surgery and miss the entire season. The Grizzlies are also missing backup center Brandon Clarke, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in March, and have been starting Xavier Tillman in the middle.

Biyombo is a free agent after spending the past two years in Phoenix. He got into 61 games last season, making 14 starts and averaging 4.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 14.3 minutes per night. He shot 57.8% from the field, but he brings a limited shooting range and hasn’t made a three-pointer in his career.

The Lakers reportedly considered signing Biyombo this summer, but opted for Christian Wood instead.

The Grizzlies have a full roster, so they can’t add Biyombo without cutting someone else until Morant is officially on the suspended list. They still have their entire $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, plus the $4.516MM bi-annual exception, if they want to offer Biyombo more than the veteran’s minimum salary, though it seems unlikely that will be necessary.

Celtics Notes: Pritchard, Kornet, Holiday, Luxury Tax

The Celtics have started extension talks with Payton Pritchard, sources tell Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Although Pritchard’s representatives are talking to the front office about a long-term deal, there’s still “a gap to close” before an agreement can be finalized, Weiss adds.

The 25-year-old guard figures to have a much larger role in a revamped Boston backcourt after offseason trades that sent out Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon and brought in Jrue Holiday. Playing time has been an issue for Pritchard, who expressed a desire to be traded in February because he wasn’t seeing consistent minutes.

That shouldn’t be a problem anymore, as Pritchard’s smooth shooting stroke makes him a welcome backcourt partner for Holiday or Derrick White. Pritchard has connected at 40% from three-point range during his three seasons in Boston.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Coach Joe Mazzulla was preparing to utilize more double-big lineups after Boston traded for Kristaps Porzingis, but those plans have changed with Robert Williams being sent to Portland in the Holiday deal, notes Jay King of The Athletic. Luke Kornet should have a larger role with Williams gone and may see time next to Porzingis, but Mazzulla will likely rely on smaller lineups with the current roster. The Celtics are bringing in Wenyen Gabriel and could look to add more frontcourt help, with King noting that Bismack Biyombo, Dewayne Dedmon and Gorgui Dieng are all free agents, along with Blake Griffin, whom president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the team would like to bring back if he doesn’t retire.
  • The Celtics had to consider Holiday’s next contract when deciding to acquire him, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. The 33-year-old guard will become eligible for an extension on February 22, but he’ll only be able to add two more years to his current deal, if he declines his $39.4MM option for 2024/25. If he waits until six months after the trade date, he can add four years and will have the choice of extending at a lower starting salary than his player option under changes made in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Gozlan points out that Holiday can also pick up the option and extend on a “team-friendly” deal similar to what Porzingis did.
  • Boston’s team salary will reach $222.6MM once the team signs a 14th player, increasing its tax penalty by $14.4MM for this season, Gozlan adds. With Jaylen Brown‘s super-max deal taking effect next year, team payroll is set to rise into the $260MM range. That figure could increase to $350MM to $400MM in 2025/26, Gozlan notes, when Jayson Tatum‘s expected super-max takes effect, if the club extends Holiday and White.
  • The Celtics have options to improve their roster even after sending two first-round picks to Portland to acquire Holiday, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Boston still has first-rounders to trade in 2024, 2026 and 2031, along with eight second-round picks through 2030. The team also has a $6.2MM TPE from the Grant Williams trade.

Celtics Notes: Backup Center, Mykhailiuk, Brogdon, Free Agents

The Celtics completed their search for another wing by signing Svi Mykhailiuk this week, so the next priority should be finding a capable big man to provide depth in the frontcourt, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Boston now has 14 players with standard contracts, one short of the regular season roster limit. Only 11 of those are guaranteed, although Mykhailiuk could become the 12th once the details of his new deal are reported.

Robert Williams and Al Horford will handle most of the minutes at center, but Williams’ injury history and Horford’s age create a need for a quality backup at the position. Washburn suggests Kristaps Porzingis could see some time in the middle, but he’s more effective at power forward and is more comfortable playing away from the basket. Luke Kornet will be in camp, but his contract is non-guaranteed until the league-wide guarantee date of January 10.

Washburn identifies Bismack Biyombo and Dewayne Dedmon as available free agents, but states that neither is significantly better than Blake Griffin, who played for the Celtics last season and has expressed an interest in returning. Washburn also mentions former All-Stars Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins, but says the organization doesn’t want to risk team chemistry by bringing in someone who’s unhappy with his role.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Mykhailiuk’s success against Boston may have sparked the organization’s interest, even though he wasn’t among the players who held workouts last month. Playing for the Knicks and Hornets last season, the 26-year-old swingman hit 24 three-pointers against the Celtics, the most of any opponent, according to Luke Scotchie of The Boston Globe. Overall, Mykhailiuk enjoyed the best shooting season of his career from long distance, connecting at 42.4% and making 1.3 per game.
  • There has been little news about Malcolm Brogdon since he was nearly sent to the Clippers in June in a deal for Porzingis, Brian Robb of MassLive notes in a mailbag column. The team hasn’t provided any updates on Brogdon’s health after he reportedly suffered a torn tendon in his right elbow in the Eastern Conference Finals. Playing again should help resolve any bitterness Brogdon might have over the trade situation, Robb states, but he may be less willing to sacrifice for the organization after nearly being moved.
  • The Celtics still may have interest in T.J. Warren and Lamar Stevens after bringing them in for tryouts, but they shouldn’t offer more than a partially guaranteed deal to either of them, Robb adds in the same piece.

Lakers Considering Christian Wood, Bismack Biyombo In Search For Backup Big Man

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said the team hopes to add another big man this summer, and sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic that Christian Wood and Bismack Biyombo are among the names under consideration.

L.A. also had interest in Dario Saric before he signed with the Warriors over the weekend, Buha adds.

The Lakers already picked up former Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes on a two-year deal. During a session with reporters on Sunday, Pelinka indicated that the team plans to use more two-big lineups, which were effective during its championship run in 2020.

“I think adding Jaxson Hayes was key to that,” Pelinka said. “I think Jaxson, much like maybe Dwight Howard in that stretch for us: big body, rim protector, active roller. … But we are looking to add an additional center as well.”

Hayes received a minimum-salary contract with a player option for the second season. Whoever else the Lakers add will probably get the same type of deal, although Buha notes that L.A. has some flexibility because it didn’t use its full non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Gabe Vincent.

Vincent’s salary for next season is projected at $10.5MM, about $1.9MM below the MLE, allowing the Lakers to use the remaining money for another roster addition, either during the summer or later on. At this point, $1.9MM is below the minimum salary for a veteran player, but that won’t be the case later in the season when minimum deals are prorated.

“With the new CBA, eventually, you’re able to use the mid-level tool even for trades,” Pelinka said. “Not quite yet. But we were intentional about keeping some space and using that. It could come in handy. For instance, in the buyout market.”

In addition to Hayes and Vincent, the Lakers signed Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish this offseason and drafted Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis. That leaves the team with 13 players, and the plan is to carry 14 when the season begins.

Wood, an offensive-minded big man, averaged 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Mavericks last season. Biyombo, who spent the past two years as a backup with the Suns, is more of a rim protector and rebounder with a limited offensive game.

Suns Notes: Beal, Paul, Ayton, Draft Picks

The Suns realized the NBA’s new second tax apron was already going to be an issue for them, so they decided not to let it stand in the way of pursuing Bradley Beal when the Wizards made him available, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN (subscription required). Phoenix reached an agreement on Sunday to trade for Beal, adding the $208MM he’s owed over the next four years to an already expensive roster.

Suns management had been considering cost-cutting moves, according to Windhorst, including a recent meeting with Chris Paul to discuss the possibility of waiving him and saving half the cost of his $30.8MM salary for next season. They decided to reverse course when the opportunity with Beal arose and will likely guarantee Paul’s entire salary before sending him to Washington, sources tell Windhorst.

New owner Mat Ishbia appears to be committed to the super-team philosophy despite a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was designed to impose heavy sanctions against free-spending teams. The trades for Beal and Kevin Durant have created a significant jump in salary since Ishbia took over the team in February.

The Suns’ spending spree is likely to continue, according to Windhorst, who says they will try to re-sign free agents Torrey CraigJosh OkogieDamion LeeJock LandaleBismack Biyombo and Terrence Ross. Windhorst also expects Phoenix to retain Cameron Payne, who only has a $2MM guarantee on his $6.5MM salary for next season through June 29, and the Suns may add to their roster with a $5MM trade exception that doesn’t expire until February.

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • Paul was flying to New York for an appearance on “Good Morning America” when he learned about the trade, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. “In this league, anything can happen, so you just figure out what’s next,” said Paul, who was on the morning show to promote his new book.
  • The Suns could avoid the second apron by trading Deandre Ayton for little to no salary in return, which would give them access to the mid-level exception, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. However, he believes it’s more likely that Ayton will be shopped for low-salaried role players, which would help ease the potential tax bill. According to Gozlan, Phoenix is currently looking at a payroll in excess of $190MM, which would result in a luxury tax penalty of about $90MM.
  • Once the Beal trade is complete, the Suns won’t control any of their first-round picks for the rest of the decade, tweets NBA writer Evan Sidery. The Nets own their selections in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, along with the right to swap picks in 2028. The Wizards are expected to get pick swaps in 2024 and 2026.

Suns Notes: Durant, Bench, Paul, Payne, Shamet

Kevin Durant‘s playoff résumé – including 29.4 PPG in 155 games and a pair of Finals MVP trophies – was a major part of why the Suns traded for him in February. Durant performed at his usual postseason level in the first round against the Clippers, but has been a minus-24 in Phoenix’s first two games vs. Denver, making just 3-of-15 three-pointers (20.%) and committing nine turnovers.

As Gerald Bourguet of writes, the Suns need more from Durant if they hope to erase their 2-0 deficit and knock off the top-seeded Nuggets. Still, head coach Monty Williams isn’t concerned about his star forward’s production, chalking up Durant’s 10-of-27 showing on Monday to an off night.

“He just missed a ton of shots, but we got a lot of the shots we wanted,” Williams said. “He and Book took most of the shots, we just didn’t shoot a great percentage tonight. And that kind of stuff happens. They only scored 97 points. Our defense was much better tonight, we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix ahead of Friday’s Game 3:

  • The Suns’ bench production was dismal in Game 2, as Damion Lee, Cameron Payne, Torrey Craig, Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale, and Ish Wainright combined for just four points on 2-of-16 shooting (0-of-9 on threes). While the team would presumably like to see those numbers improve going forward, Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic notes that Phoenix ranked last in the regular season among playoff teams in bench points, and Williams has said the roster is designed for the starters to do most of the scoring while the reserves contribute in other ways.
  • After Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that Chris Paul is expected to miss at least one week of action, the Suns officially listed their point guard as day-to-day due to his left groin strain (Twitter link). Although the team’s designation leaves the door open for a quicker return, I’d still be surprised if Paul makes it back before the one-week mark.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, who also hears that Paul will miss at least a week, examines how the Suns can cope with the veteran’s absence. As Rankin observes, if Phoenix doesn’t want to move Payne into the starting lineup, the club could opt to shift Devin Booker to the point and start a player like Landry Shamet alongside him. Shamet was a DNP-CD in Game 2 after logging 14 minutes in Game 1.

Pacific Notes: Westbrook, George, Biyombo, LeBron

Russell Westbrook is preparing to face Kevin Durant in a playoff series for the first time since their Oklahoma City partnership ended seven years ago, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The Clippers wrapped up the No. 5 seed Sunday afternoon with a victory over the Suns, setting up a first-round matchup with plenty of star power.

Both players started the season elsewhere, and they got to their current teams in radically different ways. Durant was the centerpiece of the season’s most celebrated trade, being sent from Brooklyn to Phoenix in a four-team deal at the deadline. Westbrook was a salary dump by the Lakers, who had to give up their 2027 first-round pick to get Utah to take his contract. He signed with the Clippers after agreeing to a buyout with the Jazz.

Westbrook is eager to return to the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

“It’s a blessing and something that I don’t personally take for granted,” he said. “I’m grateful to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to do so, and I’m looking forward to it.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Paul George won’t be available when the Clippers start their series on Sunday, but he’s making “tangible progress” in his recovery from a sprained right knee, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. A report over the weekend said George has started exercising again after having to keep the knee immobilized for a while.
  • Suns center Bismack Biyombo sat out Sunday’s game with a right knee bone contusion, but he’s confident that he’ll be ready for the playoffs, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Biyombo said he felt the worst pain of his career when he bumped knees with Lakers big man Anthony Davis Friday night, but the effects have largely subsided. “If it was a big game, I’d probably step on the court and compete, honestly,” Biyombo said on Sunday, “but the medical staff and the trainers that we have, we’re working through the process, but we’re patient enough knowing that we’ve got the playoffs starting. … That’s when things matter, which I’m really excited for.”
  • LeBron James is relieved to be in the play-in tournament after a 2-10 start, but he said the Lakers have to keep the same focus that propelled their late-season success, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We put ourselves in a position where we can move on. That’s all we asked for, to put ourselves in a position to move on,” James said. “We obviously had a very, very slow start. … So, to know where we are today, you can be happy about that but not satisfied.”