Bismack Biyombo is on his way to Orlando to form a menacing new frontcourt with Serge Ibaka.
The Magic and Biyombo agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal Saturday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a contract cannot be signed until Thursday.
Biyombo is coming off a breakout year in Toronto. His numbers don’t jump off the page – 5.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks in a bench role – but he started to show more of the athleticism, toughness and shot-blocking instincts that caused him to rocket up the draft board five years ago.
Biyombo was the seventh overall pick in 2011, acquired by Charlotte in a draft-night deal with Sacramento. But he never was able to make a true impact in four years there, and some started to label him a bust.
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In this year’s playoffs, however, he was superb, helping the Raptors finally get out of the first round and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
When Jonas Valanciunas was injured against Miami in the conference semifinals, Biyombo started and was a force. He had 17 points and 16 rebounds in Toronto’s Game 7 victory. He followed that with 26 rebounds and four blocks in a Game 3 victory over Cleveland in the conference finals. He also had 14 boards and three blocks in Game 4.
Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey were holding out hope that Biyombo might take a discount to remain with the Raptors after they helped him get his career on track. But with big money already committed to DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll and Valanciunas, they were fully expecting Biyombo to price himself out of Toronto.
Orlando acquired Serge Ibaka from Oklahoma City in a draft-night trade. He will play on one side of Biyombo, with promising small forward Aaron Gordon on the other.
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It remains to be seen what the Magic do with incumbent centre Nikola Vucevic, one of the better offensive centres in the game over his five years in the league. He averaged 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds last season.
The Magic could keep Vucevic to give them a productive three-man rotation with Biyombo and Ibaka. Or they could try to trade him, continuing the makeover under general manager Rob Hennigan in a bid to better suit the roster to the style of new coach Frank Vogel.
It’s been a busy off-season for the Magic. They have retained swingman Evan Fournier, added free agents Jeff Green and D.J.
Augustin, traded for Ibaka and brought in Vogel after coach Scott Skiles’ abrupt resignation.
They have not been to the playoffs since 2012. Mixing defensive-minded veterans with a group of younger players like Gordon, Fournier and Elfrid Payton could change that.