In 2016 the Orlando Magic signed Bismack Biyombo to a four-year, $72 million contract which which became one of the NBA’s worst deals before the ink even dried. The Hornets traded for Bismack in 2018 (shipping out an equally bad contract in Timofey Mozgov) and he has spent the last two seasons as a backup center making starter’s money.
Conventional wisdom was that as soon as Bismack’s contract was up, he’d be leaving Charlotte for the second time in his career. Because of this many of us have viewed Biyombo as more of a contract to get off the Hornets books than an actual player, and the time to part ways had finally come. But because nothing in 2020 has happened as expected, Bismack Biyombo will remain in Charlotte presumably on a contract that is more in line with his production.
And that’s the thing with Bismack - his production as a backup center is just fine!
It’s been hard to divorce his “meh” statistics from his inflated $17 million salary over the past two years, but the reality is he’s an adequate reserve big man. He can provide competent minutes on any given night consisting of limited offense, capable rebounding, and good enough defense.
I’d suspect both his role and levels of production in 2020-21 will be pretty consistent with what it has been over the last two years, something like 18 minutes, six points, and six rebounds per game. Plus, while Cody Zeller is coming off a mostly healthy season last year, he missed significant time due to injury in the three previous seasons, playing in 144 games and sitting out 102. If Zeller goes down this year, Bismack can be a spot starter. Last year Biz actually started 29 games and played fairly well, averaging 23.5 minutes, 8.7 points, and 7.7 rebounds.
In addition to being a serviceable backup center, Biz is a true professional. He’ll be a good mentor to rookies Vernon Cary Jr. and Nick Richards. Bismack understands Coach Borrego’s system, knows the tendencies of opposing players, and can help younger players keep focused throughout the grind of an NBA season. There’s definitely value in having experienced, high-character guys like Bismack on the roster of a team that skews very young.
Now that Bismack Biyombo’s salary will more appropriate reflect his contributions, maybe we can all appreciate him a little more this season. In 2020-21 Biz isn’t going to win games for the Hornets, but he won’t lose them, either.