Bismack Biyombo comes to an agreement with Orlando

We don’t exactly know what to make of the Orlando Magic right now, and if they’re mistaking activity for achievement. What is obvious is that the franchise, following four different trips to the lottery, really likes seeing its name in the transactions section.

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The Associated Press’ Jon Krawczynski was the first to report that the Magic have come to terms with former Raptors reserve center Bismack Biyombo:

ESPN’s Marc Stein later reported the terms at four-years and $70 million, which would pay Biyombo until he is nearly 27.

Biyombo, the Toronto veteran that acted as one of the league’s better reserves during 2015-16, has steadily improved throughout his five-year NBA career. Biyombo averaged 8.2 points, 11 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in ten starts during the 2016 postseason, filling in admirably after starting Raptors pivotman Jonas Valanciunas went down with an ankle injury.

Valanciunas is owed over $46 million over the next three seasons in Toronto, prior to a 2019-20 player option at over $17 million. Bismack was going to have his suitors, and even for a large market team like Toronto it hardly made sense for the team to commit to well over $30 million a year for two pivotmen that would always stand as a long shot to make an All-Star team.

Enter Orlando, apparently, who will make Biyombo a starter straightaway:

This demotes, at least until some sort of transaction is agreed upon, center Nikola Vucevic.

Vucevic, one of the few scoring centers left in the NBA, led the team with 18.2 points per game, 1.1 blocks and 8.9 rebounds in 2016-17. It’s rare to see a player who leads a squad in three major categories – at age 25, no less – so publicly knocked down a peg like this, but the Magic were clearly unhappy with Vucevic’s porous defense.

Adding former NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka (as Orlando did on draft night) was supposed to help fix this, seemingly, but the Magic apparently do not want to wait around to give the two a try next fall. Ibaka’s block and rebound percentages have fallen off precipitously over the last few years, though, which is why the team decided to make the commitment to Biyombo.

Originally drafted by Sacramento in 2011, the Congo native was immediately dealt to Charlotte where he played for four seasons prior to catching on with the Raptors in 2015. Bismack averaged 5.5 points, 1.6 blocks and eight rebounds per game off the Toronto bench last season, working 22 minutes a night and playing in all 82 regular season games.

Not only will he pair with yet another Congo native in Ibaka, Biyombo will share time with the player once thought to be Orlando’s power forward of the future – third-year pro and 2016 Slam Dunk champion Aaron Gordon. He’ll also be introduced alongside Jeff Green, as the Magic became the latest team to ink the we’re not sure what he actually does-forward earlier in the week, at the cost of one season and $15 million.

All this is brisk and active, and the 35-win Magic will certainly be quite the athletic bunch up front in 2016-17, but it’s tough to talk yourself into the team’s future prospects given the up and down nature of the franchise in the years since Dwight Howard forced his way out of town in 2012.

With Brandon Jennings likely heading elsewhere, the team has nothing to show for the deal that sent Tobias Harris packing to Milwaukee earlier in 2016. The group is on its third head coach (Frank Vogel is on board) in three years, and though Ibaka could improve with a change of scenery in ORL, he’s also due to become a free agent in 2017 when the salary cap jumps yet another $16 million or so. If Ibaka bolts, two losing years’ worth of lottery picks (Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis) will have been sent elsewhere just for the ability to lead Serge Ibaka’s reclamation project for a year.

Staring down another potential lottery season in the unexceptional East, the Magic felt like it had to do something. We’ll see how Biyombo – who helped lead Toronto past Vogel’s Indiana Pacers last spring – fits into that as a starter.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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