The Orlando Magic are a team that will need a roster shakeup this summer. Contracts like the one given to Bismack Biyombo, however, will make that difficult.
Although the Orlando Magic should be happy with losing games at this stage of the season, even the manner in which they are doing so is tough to watch.
Wednesday night’s last second loss that should never have been against the Los Angeles Lakers served the latest sting to what has been a thorny season thanks to a clock malfunction.
Thanks to a new front office that took over last summer, the upcoming offseason offers hope of this team becoming relevant again, but the roster overhaul will still be no easy task.
Star players obviously have no interest in playing in Orlando, and even veteran players that look good on paper don’t always work out either. We only need to look at Jonathon Simmons, signed last summer to be a leader and mentor on this team, to know this is the case.
What makes taking this rebuild to the next level difficult are the contracts the team is stuck under, which are basically impossible to move unless they add a first round draft pick to soften the blow.
For a team such as this one that needs to build through the draft, that is not going to happen. Which brings us to center Bismack Biyombo.
Signed in the summer of 2016 by the now infamous former general manager Rob Hennigan, Biyombo’s four-year, $72 million deal looked bad then and feels atrocious now.
But how bad does it rank in terms of deals around the entire league? Is it say, one of the 10 worst contracts out there today? How long will it hamper this team’s growth for?
Before looking at this from a league-wide perspective, it is worth examining how detrimental this is to the Magic internally. Biyombo’s deal isn’t moveable, and his skill-set is one that is needed less and less as time goes by in the NBA.
In fact, and this is borderline unbelievable, Biyombo is getting paid only $1 million less this season ($17 million) than all-time franchise great Dwight Howard did ($18 million) in his last season with the team in 2012.
When Howard was with the Magic, dominant big men were still highly sought after, and could take you from the lottery to the playoffs in a couple of seasons.
For Biyombo to be given that much after one good series for the Toronto Raptors against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Playoffs is madness, even with the rising salary cap taken into consideration.
This isn’t new information, of course. Many fans felt that way at the time. Money was flowing into the league and the salary cap showed no signs of slowing down. Now it feels so much worse, and it also means the team will have to part ways with Nikola Vucevic, most likely this summer, to free up some cap flexibility.
Vucevic is in line to make $12.8 million next season and if you want to build a winning team, you can’t spend close to $30 million on two players who can’t play together.
Or perhaps they can, but nevertheless, Vucevic appears to be the odd man out and so the team will have to move on from him.
The inability to move Biyombo also blocks the path of Khem Birch from one day becoming the starting big man for this team. Birch has been a bit of a revelation since getting his chance to play more minutes after Christmas and has been a help defensively when called upon.
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Not only is he making less than $1 million this season, the Magic also have a much better defensive rating when Birch is on the floor (102.8) than when Biyombo is out there (110.7).
Given that Biyombo is only there to be a defensive presence and nothing else, that’s worrisome. In fact, that defensive rating he’s bringing to the team is the worst of his career to date.
You can’t even really blame the players Biyombo is sharing the court with, as Birch plays with them too, albeit only roughly 11 minutes a night at the moment (Biyombo is playing 18.9 per game).
From a pure rebounding standpoint, this is Biyombo’s second-worst output of his career to date (5.8 per game). Sure he sets great screens and runs the floor diligently, but that is not worth what he is being paid.
Just how overpaid is Biyombo in the grand scheme of things? As it stands, he’s the 60th-best paid player in the entire league. Since the Magic’s prolonged rebuild began, he is the second-highest paid player that they’ve had on their roster, with only Gilbert Arenas in 2012-13 making more in a season ($20 million).
Arenas had his many flaws, but his skill-set from then still translates better to today’s game than Biyombo’s.
The Magic did a solid job the first few years in particular of being bottom-feeders, clearing the roster of any long-term or bad deals. Here are there top earners from those seasons:
- 2012-13: Gilbert Arenas ($20 million)
- 2013-14: Hedo Turkoglu ($12 million)
- 2014-15: Channing Frye ($8 million)
- 2015-16: Nikola Vucevic ($11.25 million)
- 2016-17: Bismack Biyombo ($17 million)
- 2017-18: Bismack Biyombo ($17 million)
We can see where the Magic began to put money back into the roster in the hopes of making a playoff push, but there’s no question it went to the wrong players. Biyombo is the scapegoat for this here, but let’s not forget Evan Fournier is also making $17 million this season.
What makes this even worse is that some of the Magic’s former players who have blossomed elsewhere aren’t even making that much more than Biyombo. Victor Oladipo is making $21 million this season, and what the team would do to have that first-time All-Star back….
They were right to not want to offer him the max at the time, as the Oklahoma City Thunder eventually did, but that deal is far better than what Biyombo earns in terms of value.
Tobias Harris was another player the team extended, before then trading to the Detroit Pistons. He has improved immensely since leaving and is making $16 million with the Los Angeles Clippers this season.
Locking the team’s future into Oladipo, Harris, Jonathan Isaac and hopefully Aaron Gordon would not have guaranteed this team had any meaningful postseason success, but it’d sure be better than paying Biyombo and Fournier a combined $34 million and seeing where that takes them.
This leads us to the next point that illustrates how poor Biyombo’s contract is. Barring one team (Thunder, fifth), Biyombo would be at worst the fourth-highest paid player on any other team in the league.
He would also be the highest earner on two teams (Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings) if he somehow magically joined them.
Here’s a rough look at what the money Biyombo is getting — and will continue to get for two more seasons — will get you around the league today:
- Klay Thompson ($17.8 million)
- Draymond Green ($16.4 million)
- DeMarcus Cousins ($18 million)
- Kawhi Leonard ($18.8 million)
- Goran Dragic ($17 million)
That’s some elite company for sure, and what is Biyombo giving this team instead? A whopping 5.7 points and 5.8 rebounds a night. Zero 3-point shooting, zero offensive game.
In case you feel like those names were taken to prove a point, here are some less illustrious names on similar money to Biz:
- Kent Bazemore ($16.9 million)
- Evan Turner ($17.1 million)
- Joakim Noah ($17.7 million)
- Timofey Mozgov ($15.2 million)
- Luol Deng ($17.1 million)
Yet Deng and Noah are basically paid to stay away from the team, while Mozgov was taken on by the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that saw them acquire D’Angelo Russell.
Bazemore is by far the best player on this list, but even the rebuilding Hawks can’t move him to a contending team who could use his services because his contract is a stumbling block.
None of this is designed to knock Biyombo though; he cashed in after a solid offseason run a few years back and he just did what any other player would.
It’s just a shame that the Magic are on the hook to pay for his services for a couple more years, when most of the findings point to this being something that will continue to really hold them back.
All of which is to say, outside of Noah, Deng and Mozgov, Bismack Biyombo has arguably the worst contract in the NBA today, no matter what angle you look at it from.
Evan Fournier may prove to be not too far behind, but that’s a conversation for another day. There’s only so much negativity this fanbase can continue to take.