After DeMar DeRozan’s impending free agency, the biggest question Masai Ujiri faces this summer is whether or not he’ll be able to re-sign Bismack Biyombo.
The 23 year-old centre was a pleasant surprise for the Raptors this season, greatly out-performing his $3 million contract and particularly playing inspired basketball deep into the playoffs— so much so that he may have priced himself out of town completely.
While the NBA continues to go small, teams like the Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder are proving that there is always a ton of value in having a giant, physical presence down the middle who can control the boards and protect the paint. How much value? Some reports have indicated the market is willing to pay upwards of $17 million per season for Biyombo, and while that number may seem higher than Action Bronson at Coachella, there are 21 teams with max. cap space to spend this summer and you can bank on at least one of them talking themselves into devoting a chunk of that dough towards an effective starter.
It may have seemed the writing was on the wall in terms of Biyombo’s off-season departure, but on Monday he expressed his desire to return to the Raptors next season and beyond.
While appearing on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Andrew Walker Show, Biyombo was asked if he expects to be playing in a Raptor uniform next year. “Honestly, I do,” he said, adding that, “We still have some unfinished business. It was so much fun to see the team go from last year to this year making the Eastern Conference finals. Be it would be fun to go even further next season.”
Ok, fair enough. Biyombo thoroughly enjoyed the Raps’ playoff run along with the rest of us, but money is the biggest issue here, and he addressed that, too. When asked if he would take a hometown discount, he didn’t hesitate with his answer:
“Yeah. Things can always be worked out,” Biyombo said Monday, “I’ve said that to my people, I’ve said that to Masai. When the right time comes I’d be open to figuring something out. At the end of the day it’s for fun, not money. It’s not always about money. Money is great, but at the same time I ask ‘how much fun am I going to have? The city is great, the team is great, and we’re winning.”
In the ten games following Jonas Valanciunas’ injury in the second round of the playoffs, Biyombo averaged 8.2 points on 60% shooting, 11 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in 33 minutes per game.
He stressed how important this offseason was for the Raptors, and his desire to get back in the gym and go to work, stating that he wants to focus on basketball and not on contract negotiations. “I have the right people in my corner to handle that,” Biyombo said, “so I’m not concerned about it. One thing I’m thankful for is the opportunity I was given here. The whole season as we faced ups and downs [but] my teammates allow me to be myself and play my game. It was so much fun to be around my teammates, be around the city. I’m expecting for myself to be back here and I believe I have the right people to get it done.”
Listen to the full interview here.