Report: Raptors’ Biyombo opts out of contract, becomes UFA

Toronto Raptors' Bismack Biyombo (8) dunks over Charlotte Hornets' Cody Zeller (40) during the first half. (Chuck Burton/AP)

Toronto Raptors centre Bismack Biyombo has declined the $2.9-million option for 2016-17 in order to become an unrestricted free agent, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders is reporting.

This latest report comes on the heels of an ESPN one last week that said Biyombo would opt out of his current deal and potentially begin taking offers of $15 million a season on the open market.

In 19 playoff games this season, Biyombo averaged 6.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on 60 per cent shooting, that included a monstrous 26-rebound, four-block performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While teams can exceed the salary cap to sign their own free agents under the Larry Bird exception, the Raptors don’t own Biyombo’s Bird rights (a player who has played three seasons without being waived or changing teams as a free agent). That would make re-signing him to that estimated $15 million per season nearly impossible given the fact they have to make a decision on all-star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and the max contract he is likely to command.

Still, the 23-year-old Biyombo did publicly say he would be willing to take a hometown discount, but can he really leave so much money on the table just to stay in Toronto? He’s certainly said things indicating that.

“Yeah. Things can always be worked out,” Biyombo said last week on the Andrew Walker Show. “I’ve said that to my people, I’ve said that to [Raptors general manager] Masai [Ujiri]. 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.”

We’ll see soon enough just how much, exactly, “having fun” is really worth.

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