Now that the Toronto Raptors’ season has ended, the discussion for them will now to turn to a pair of extremely important unrestricted free agents in DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo. The Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to both players recently and getting either would be a major acquisition.
In the immediate aftermath of their final loss, both players expressed interest in returning to the Raptors with Biyombo in particular saying that he doesn’t care about being a starter, and wouldn’t be turned off by a reserve role.
Now, in an interview with Andrew Walker of SportsNet 590 The Fan, Biyombo not only said that he expects to return to Toronto, but is open to taking a hometown discount to do so:
— Andrew Walker (@FAN590Walker) May 30, 2016
That discount could be a major price to pay for Biyombo as the Raptors do not own his ‘Bird Rights’ and thus can not go over the salary cap to sign him. Some have reported that Biyombo could command upwards of $15 million a year, and Toronto will struggle to match that.
The extension for starting center Jonas Valanciunas kicks in next season. That, combined with big contracts for DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Lowry, and the max contract it would likely take to keep DeRozan (which is reportedly their top priority) doesn’t leave much for Biyombo.
Biyombo is an ideal fit for the Lakers as a defensive-minded center to pair with Julius Randle in the front court. If Biyombo is truly intent on remaining in Toronto then the Lakers are stuck, but if the money difference is too big to pass up, the Lakers have the perfect combination of money and a bigger role that they will surely pitch his way.