Three years removed from the Charlotte Hornets declining to make him a qualifying offer, center Bismack Biyombo may return to his first NBA team.
Biyombo would move from the Orlando Magic to the Hornets in a three-way trade in the works Saturday, according to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The reported deal, which would also include the Chicago Bulls, would send newly-acquired Timofey Mozgov to the Magic and Julyan Stone’s $1.6 million un-guaranteed salary to the Bulls.
Biyombo’s and Mozgov’s contracts roughly match. Biyombo has this season and next season left on his contract, paying him $17 million each of those seasons.
The then-Charlotte Bobcats traded for the draft rights to Biyombo, who was selected seventh overall in 2011 by the Sacramento Kings. That was two picks before the Bobcats selected future All-Star Kemba Walker.
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Biyombo, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a rim protector. So he could make up for some of what the Hornets had defensively before trading center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets Friday in the deal that sent Mozgov to Charlotte. Biyombo, who is 6-foot-9, has averaged 1.4 shots blocked and 6.5 rebounds over his seven NBA seasons.
However, Biyombo would get plenty of competition for minutes at center with the Hornets. Coach James Borrego has spoken positively about Cody Zeller and Willy Hernangomez, who changed plans to be with the Spanish national team to play on the Hornets’ summer-league team.
Biyombo played his first four NBA seasons in Charlotte, before the Hornets chose not to extend him a $4.1 million qualifying offer in the summer of 2015 that would have restricted his free agency. Biyombo then signed with the Toronto Raptors, and played so well in a playoff appearance the next season that the Magic signed him to a four-year $68 million contract.
While Biyombo would provide some defense and rebounding, he is a limited offensive player (career 5.0 points per game) in an NBA increasingly moving toward big men who can score outside the lane. Biyombo has no real shooting range beyond 3 feet from the rim.
Apparently, part of the incentive for this trade discussion is Orlando’s desire to add size at point guard. Based on reports, the Bulls would send Jerian Grant to the Magic to compete with D.J. Augustin. That would provide the size that former Hornets coach Steve Clifford, now coaching the Magic, would desire from one of his point guard options.