Bismack Biyombo

Northwest Notes: Billups, Blazers, Porter Jr., Sarr, Biyombo

Chauncey Billups is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Trail Blazers, who hold a team option on the 2025/26 season. Billups realizes that the team needs to show significant improvement in order for him to get an extension, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report.

“In this business, I always feel like you’re trying to prove what you can do and what kind of coach you can be,” he said. “I’ve always felt that way and I feel no different going into next year. I’m looking forward to that opportunity to be able to prove how good I can be. In this league and any league in the professional ranks, you’re always coaching for your job. It’s a part of the business. But that doesn’t scare me. I’m not worried about it. I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers are planning to improve from within rather than making aggressive moves for high-priced veterans that could cost them major resources, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian reports. “We’re heavily invested in a lot of our young guys, so development will continue to be a focus,” GM Joe Cronin said. “We’re not going to win at an extremely high level until some of those guys are ready. But at the same time, it’s our job to give them the best environment to thrive in. And often that’s with additional help. I think this year there were some flaws in the roster, especially in some missing skill sets and just in general imbalance, where it made it complicated for those guys to reach their highest potential.”
  • Jontay Porter‘s ban from the NBA for gambling-related violations has taken a toll on his brother, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Bennett Durando of the Denver Post tweets. “It has not been easy for him,” coach Michael Malone said. “That’s why I give him credit, because he’s carrying so much in his heart and in his mind.”
  • Thunder big man and two-way player Olivier Sarr suffered a left Achilles tendon rupture during the G League Finals on Monday night, according to a team press release. In 15 games this season with the Thunder, Sarr averaged 2.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 6.5 minutes. Sarr also saw action in 18 games with the Blue and averaged 14.0 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 28.2 minutes.
  • Bismack Biyombo fainted during a game in early March. The Thunder center revealed to Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman that he was dehydrated due to fasting. Biyombo has fasted at various times throughout his career for religious reasons.

Thunder Notes: Biyombo, Dort, Offense, SGA

There was a scary moment on the sidelines during the first half of the Thunder‘s victory in Portland on Wednesday, as big man Bismack Biyombo collapsed without warning as his teammates were coming to the bench for a timeout (Twitter video link via Clemente Almanza).

Biyombo eventually got up and walked to the locker room under his own power, and head coach Mark Daigneault said after the game that the big man was doing OK, per Justin Martinez of The Oklahoman.

“He’s fine,” Daigneault said. “He just fainted, basically. But he was in the locker room at halftime, laughing and joking. And he stayed back there, but he’s doing fine.”

Biyombo, who has played limited minutes in four games since signing with the Thunder nearly a month ago, has been cleared of any serious medical issue, but will undergo further evaluation on Thursday, tweets OKC sideline reporter Nick Gallo.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Thunder wing Luguentz Dort shared his thoughts on the Thunder, the Canadian national team, and his approach on defense, among other topics. While he’d like to make an All-Defensive team, Dort made it clear that goal is secondary to helping his team win as many games as possible. “That’s just accolades,” he said. “I feel like the best thing I can do is to do anything to help my team win. I’m doing this for my team. I’m not doing this to make an award. So I don’t really go out there and think about it. I try to be the best player that I can be on the court.”
  • While the current iteration of the Thunder has drawn plenty of comparisons to the previous Oklahoma City team that featured rising stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, Chris Herring of ESPN sees a connection between this season’s group and the Warriors circa 2012-16. In an interesting Insider-only story, Herring breaks down the similarities between how the two clubs use (or used) guard-to-guard screens to fuel dynamic offenses.
  • Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman examines Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s case for Most Valuable Player and considers what it would take for the superstar guard to surpass Nikola Jokic as the frontrunner for the award.

Northwest Notes: Knox, J. Williams, Wolves, McDaniels

Free agent forward Kevin Knox has returned to the G League, having reported back to the Rip City Remix, according to a tweet from the Trail Blazers‘ G League affiliate.

Knox was with the Remix in the fall, but signed with the Pistons in early November and was in the NBA for three months before being sent to Utah at February’s trade deadline. The Jazz immediately waived him, and with no NBA opportunities immediately presenting themselves, the former No. 9 overall pick eventually decide to head back to the G League.

Knox racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds and was a +23 in a 15-point victory over Iowa in his return to Rip City on Friday. A few more performances like that could help earn him another shot at the NBA level. For what it’s worth, since he was waived before March 1, he’ll be playoff-eligible if he signs a rest-of-season contract with an NBA club.

Here are a few more notes from around the Northwest:

  • Thunder center Jaylin Williams has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, head coach Mark Daigneault said on Friday (Twitter link via Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder). There’s no word yet on the severity of the sprain, but it’s often a week-to-week injury, so one of the team’s recent frontcourt additions – Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala – may get an opportunity to claim a rotation role.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter links) clarifies that incoming Timberwolves owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez have until the end of March to make their final payment to assume majority control of the franchise. Sources close to the Lore/Rodriguez group say they remain on track to make that payment, per Krawczynski. Current majority owner Glen Taylor said in a recent conversation with Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News that he was told Lore and Rodriguez planned to close the sale at the end of February, which didn’t happen. However, it doesn’t sound like the new ownership group has missed any deadlines.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune explores Jaden McDaniels‘ importance to the Timberwolves and notes that the club will need an “even-keeled” version of the young forward in order to reach its ceiling. McDaniels memorably broke his hand when he punched a wall on the final day of the 2022/23 regular season and missed Minnesota’s play-in loss.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Hayward, Biyombo, Billups, Nuggets

The Jazz have allowed Otto Porter to return home to contemplate where he wants to finish the season, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. The team is willing to negotiate a buyout with Porter, Jones adds, but it will have to be completed by March 1 to make him eligible for the playoffs with another organization.

Porter hasn’t played since being acquired from Toronto two weeks ago, even though Jones’ sources say he is completely healthy. Utah is committed to giving more minutes to rookie forward Taylor Hendricks, according to Jones, which is why the front office is open to a buyout.

Jones notes that Porter was in uniform last Thursday for the final game before the All-Star break, even though he wasn’t used. He only played 15 games for the Raptors this season before the deal, but Jones points out that Porter had an important role in Golden State’s 2022 championship and could draw attention from several contenders if he hits the open market.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Gordon Hayward expects to be ready to make his Thunder debut when the season resumes Thursday night, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The veteran forward, who hasn’t played since December 26 because of a calf injury, appreciated having extra time to prepare after Oklahoma City acquired him from Charlotte at the trade deadline. “The nice thing about when I got traded was I’ve had another week and a half, because of the break, to continue to get work in,” Hayward said. “I was here for most of the break.” 
  • Coach Mark Daigneault sees newly signed center Bismack Biyombo as a “situational player” for the Thunder, per Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder. “That was something we were honest about upfront [with Biyombo],” Daigneault said. “… He is a great professional, very serious competitor, and I think he will help the environment in that way.” 
  • Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups had his arm in a sling at Wednesday’s practice after undergoing surgery this week to fix a long-standing problem with his right wrist, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. The issue involves a ligament tear that Billups suffered as a player in 2009.
  • Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports looks at three issues that will define the closing part of the Nuggets‘ season: how hard they’ll pursue the No. 1 seed, whether coach Michael Malone will consider expanding his rotation, and how effective Christian Braun and Peyton Watson can continue to be.

Pacific Notes: Suns’ Buyout Options, Durant, Booker, Harden, LeBron, Curry

The Suns have numerous options on the buyout market, but their preferred targets may not be available, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Phoenix had two roster spots open after an active trade deadline, and one of those will be filled by Thaddeus Young, who is expected to finalize his reported deal with the team early this week, according to Bourguet.

The Suns are looking for help in several areas, and one of their top priorities was reportedly Delon Wright, who is expected to sign with Miami. Sources tell Bourguet that Phoenix also considered Danilo Gallinari, but he was crossed off the list after the agreement with Young and wound up signing with Milwaukee. Bourguet also cites mutual interest in a reunion with Bismack Biyombo before he reached a deal with Oklahoma City.

Bourguet identifies ideal targets as Spurs forward Cedi Osman and Jazz forward Otto Porter, who hasn’t played since being acquired from Toronto at the deadline. However, there hasn’t been a strong indication that either player will reach a buyout before the March 1 deadline to be eligible for the postseason with a new team. If they aren’t available, Bourguet looks at Danuel House as a potential signing, along with the possibility that Saben Lee could be promoted from his two-way contract.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns stars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker both talked Saturday about the connection they’ve formed after a full year as teammates, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “We have the same likes in life,” Booker said. “We’re hoops junkies and that’s where it started. Now we spend a lot more time together, man. We like to kick it, chill. Talk basketball and play video games.”
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue believes the early-season trade for James Harden relaxed the burden on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, enabling both stars to stay healthier, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.“(Having Harden) makes it a lot easier on Kawhi and PG not to have to handle and make every play for themselves and for our team,” Lue said. “So, James has been great, just keeps everybody happy … takes a lot of grind off of PG and Kawhi.”
  • In the wake of a report that the Warriors contacted the Lakers about LeBron James before the deadline, Bruce Jenkins of The San Francisco Chronicle looks at what would have to happen if James and Stephen Curry decide they want to join forces with Golden State.

Western Notes: Thompson, Lee, Gobert, Biyombo

The prospect of a reduced role wouldn’t prevent Klay Thompson from re-signing with the Warriors this offseason, he told Logan Murdock of The Ringer. Thompson will become an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t sign an extension.

“Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “I’ll be 35 next year. At 35, coming off the ACL and an Achilles [tear] and still have the ability to be a really good player. Maybe not the guy who scored 60 in three quarters and scored an NBA record 37 points in a quarter, but still a great threat out there. I’ve modeled my game after Reggie [Miller] and Ray [Allen], and those guys were incredibly effective until their late 30s. So I plan on kind of following that mold.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Damion Lee hasn’t played this season after undergoing knee surgery in October, but the Suns haven’t given up hope that Lee will return this season, even though he has yet to go through on-court activities, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “Hopefully at some point towards the end of the regular season we can start talking about where he’s at in terms of getting back on the floor,” coach Frank Vogel said. The swingman re-signed with Phoenix as a free agent last summer, inking a two-year, minimum-salary deal that includes a player option.
  • The Timberwolves took plenty of heat last season for their blockbuster trade with the Jazz that brought Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. Bucks coach Doc Rivers recently said those critics have been muffled this season, Nolan O’Hara of Sports Illustrated relays. “I don’t think anyone’s laughing at that trade anymore,” Rivers said after Minnesota defeated Milwaukee last week. “They’re just so long, and they play hard, too.”
  • New Thunder big man Bismack Biyombo won’t make his franchise debut until after the All-Star break, Brett Dawson tweets. Biyombo signed with OKC after the Grizzlies waived him earlier this season.

Northwest Notes: Hendricks, Jazz’s Trades, Biyombo, Waters

The Jazz‘s deadline trades will thrust lottery pick Taylor Hendricks into a larger role, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

With Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontecchio, and Ochai Agbaji no longer on the roster, the Jazz will take a longer look at their young players. Hendricks, who has appeared in 14 games off the bench, tops the list. He played 18 minutes against Phoenix on Thursday.

“Taylor’s life is very different now,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Taylor is going to be a part of our rotation. He’s going to be playing every night. How much he plays every night will be determined by how well he plays.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz general manager Justin Zanik went into detail about the team’s future plans and why they made those trades during a post-deadline press conference. Zanik laid out his reasoning for dealing the above-mentioned trio. “Two of those guys were going to be free agents. Maybe we bring them back, maybe not,” he said, per Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake City Tribune. “We didn’t trade anybody of our core. We traded one starter who has started during our run that started basically half the year. The other two were rotation players. Last year, we traded three starters. This is the second kind of calibration around our core, and sometimes that takes time. I wish that it was quick and then all of a sudden we have a long and prosperous run right now. We’ll do that in a second. It’s just not available.”
  • The Thunder added veteran big man Bismack Biyombo after the Grizzlies waived him. He’ll play a situational role, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Biyombo will basically be used as insurance and add some size and rebounding when needed.
  • The Thunder also made another personnel move after the deadline, promoting Lindy Waters from two-way status to a standard deal. According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype (Twitter link), Waters inked a two-year deal, which is fully guaranteed for the rest of this season and includes a team option for next season.

Thunder Sign Bismack Biyombo For Rest Of Season

7:52pm: The signing is official, the Thunder announced in a press release.

12:22pm: The Thunder have bolstered their frontcourt depth by signing free agent center Bismack Biyombo for the rest of the season, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It’s a minimum-salary deal for Biyombo, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A 13-year veteran, Biyombo signed a one-year, $5MM contract with the Grizzlies earlier this season to help fill in at center following Steven Adams‘ season-ending knee surgery. He started 27 of 30 games he played for the team, averaging 5.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 23.9 minutes per night.

Memphis originally signed Biyombo using an extra roster spot that was granted during Ja Morant‘s 25-game suspension. The Grizzlies hung onto the big man following the star guard’s return, waiving Kenneth Lofton in order to create room on the roster for him, but eventually let Biyombo go when Morant suffered a season-ending injury of his own and the team’s focus shifted away from pushing for the playoffs this season.

Biyombo, 31, will become the veteran voice among a group of Oklahoma City centers that also features second-year big men Chet Holmgren and Jaylin Williams. He may not play regular rotation minutes, but he’ll provide important injury insurance for a team on track to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

The Thunder traded three players for Gordon Hayward on deadline day, creating two open spots on their 15-man roster which they’ve already filled by promoting Lindy Waters and signing Biyombo. The club still has one vacant two-way slot.

Fischer’s Latest: Hield, Sixers, George, Pacers, Trae, Murray, More

Buddy Hield rejected a “significant” extension offer from Indiana in the fall, and with a lucrative new deal for Pascal Siakam to account for, the Pacers’ ability to retain Hield as a free agent this offseason was in doubt, which is why they sent him to the Sixers on Thursday, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Philadelphia, which doesn’t currently have any guaranteed money on its books beyond 2023/24 besides Joel Embiid‘s contract, is much better positioned to retain Hield, though the 76ers will likely consider many options with their projected cap room.

Echoing Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter video link), Fischer says star forward Paul George figures to be a top target for the Sixers if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Clippers in the coming weeks or months. Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who holds a player option for 2024/25, has also been mentioned as a possible Philadelphia target, per Fischer.

The Sixers wouldn’t be the only team in play for George if he reaches free agency, according to Fischer, who suggests there have been whispers that the veteran is intrigued by the possibility of returning to Indiana and teaming up with Tyrese Haliburton. Such a move would be tricky – but certainly not impossible – from a cap perspective.

Philadelphia’s offseason outlook will hinge in part on what the team’s plans are for Tobias Harris. According to Fischer, the Sixers weren’t willing to include him in a deadline deal that would have sent him to Detroit, with Pistons wings Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks going to Philly. The Pistons may be in the mix for Harris in free agency this summer, Fischer notes, adding that Hornets forward Miles Bridges is another player expected to be on Detroit’s radar.

Here are a few more post-deadline items of interest from Fischer:

  • Multiple front offices came away from their conversations with the Hawks believing that Atlanta could make star guard Trae Young available this summer, says Fischer. However, he cautions that could “prove to be wishful thinking,” since the information is coming from rival teams rather than from the Hawks themselves. If Young were to hit the trade market, the Lakers and Spurs are among the clubs widely viewed as potential fits, Fischer adds.
  • League personnel anticipate that the Lakers will resume conversations with the Hawks about Dejounte Murray in the offseason, according to Fischer, who notes that the Pelicans could revisit their Murray talks at that point too. Atlanta is known to value multiple players on New Orleans’ roster, league sources Fischer, though one of those players – Naji Marshall – will be an unrestricted free agent this July.
  • Although there were several teams open to the idea of acquiring D’Angelo Russell, many front offices viewed his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25 as having negative value, Fischer reports. That thinking, along with Russell’s strong recent play, factored into the Lakers‘ decision to hang onto him through the deadline.
  • In addition to the recently released players who will hit the free agent market shortly, center Bismack Biyombo, forward Rudy Gay, and swingman Danny Green are among the veterans who were waived earlier in 2023/24 and continue to seek new NBA homes, Fischer writes, singling out Biyombo as a player expected to generate interest.

Pacific Notes: Suns Rumors, Caruso, Clippers, Powell, Barnes

Within a look at some of the potential trade targets who have recently been linked to the Suns, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports reports that a source close to the situation has described Phoenix as “very confident” about its ability to make a competitive offer for Hornets forward Miles Bridges. Bourguet adds that Charlotte center Nick Richards is also a target, but that the team would likely only be able to acquire one Hornet or the other due to salary-matching considerations.

Bourguet also confirms that Nets forward Royce O’Neale is a legitimate target for the Suns, observing that O’Neale is more attainable than Dorian Finney-Smith due to his expiring contract and smaller cap hit.

The Suns would almost certainly need to use Nassir Little ($6.25MM) as their primary outgoing salary piece in any trade and would need to get to within 10% of the incoming salary, so acquiring a player who is earning much more than O’Neale ($9.5MM) would be tricky. Phoenix would presumably need to add one or two minimum-salary players and multiple second-round picks to its package for either Bridges or O’Neale.

The buyout market could also prove fruitful for the Suns, Bourguet writes, even though they’ll be prohibited from signing a player whose pre-waiver salary exceeds $12.4MM. P.J. Tucker would have interest in Phoenix if he’s bought out, according to Bourguet, who says the team has also been in touch with center Bismack Biyombo, a current free agent.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Veteran guard Alex Caruso, who left the Lakers for the Bulls as a free agent in 2021, tells Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports that he still sometimes thinks about how things would have played out if he had remained in Los Angeles. “Yeah, definitely,” Caruso said. “Just because of how well I played with them when I was here. I know how I supported them. And I’ve gotten better. I was expecting myself to get better. It’s actually what had to move me on. I kept getting better and eventually I was at a point where I couldn’t stay here. I definitely have always thought about it because those guys (LeBron James and Anthony Davis) are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together. Always good seeing them. Every now and then you think about what could’ve been.”
  • Rival coaches and executives are praising Clippers head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank for the way his gamble on James Harden has paid off so far, according to Steve Bulpett of “I didn’t think it would work out,” one exec said. “A lot of people didn’t think it would work out. But he had it right. Russell (Westbrook) is playing within himself. Harden is sharing the ball. They have great chemistry right now.”
  • In a conversation with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Clippers wing Norman Powell spoke about his impressions of Harden and Westbrook as teammates, the role that coach Tyronn Lue has played in the team’s success, and how these Clippers compare to the 2019 champion Raptors, among other topics.
  • Viewed as a probable outgoing piece if the Kings make a major deadline trade, Harrison Barnes has been on a heater this week, scoring 32 points on Monday and a career-high 39 on Thursday, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes.