Biyombo will reach into own pocket to play for Bobcats


Bismack Biyombo wanted badly to play for the Charlotte Bobcats this season — so much so that he will reach into his own pocket and pay much of his salary this season to a Spanish club.

Biyombo was under contract to Fuenlabrada for the next two seasons and had a $1.5 million buyout. A number Fuenlabrada would not back off of (why should they?). The Bobcats can only pay $500,000. Biyombo tried negotiations and a civil lawsuit to get a lower buyout, but he lost on every count.

So he has agreed to the buyout and the rookie is on his way to Charlotte, reports Sportando.

That is $1 million out of Biyombo’s pocket straight back to Spain this season. That’s serious dedication — how many players would give up $1 million to get to the NBA?

The 19-year-old Congo native was selected No. 7 overall by the Bobcats in the last draft. He is athletic, a defending and rebounding big man who is going to get a lot of minutes — when Kwame Brown went to Golden State the Bobcats were going to play 6’8” Boris Diaw at center for big minutes. Biyombo is getting a baptism by fire. The faster he can come along this season the better the Bobcats will be (which still will not be very good).

Steve Kerr: “Kobe is the closest thing to Michael (Jordan)”

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Kobe Bryant modeled his game on Michael Jordan’s, right down to the tongue hanging out when he drove the lane. Both wore their competitiveness on their sleeve, and both were driven like few others. Kobe chased MJ in rings, in MVPs, in points scored and just about every conceivable way.

Every great player now gets measured against Jordan, including LeBron James. Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played with — and got punched by — Jordan, said there is no comparison, Kobe is more like Jordan.

The highlights of Kerr’s comments:

“Kobe is the closest thing to Michael (Jordan). Everybody’s been compared to Michael. LeBron’s been compared to Michael — I don’t think LeBron is Michael at all. I think he’s a very different player, a very different mentality and mindset. Kobe has the same mentality and mindset that MJ had. The assassin, the ‘I’m gonna rip your throat out with my scoring,’ low-post dominant fadeaway jumper, footwork.

“I thought Kobe’s footwork was one of the best parts of his game — probably the most underrated because everybody focused on his shooting and his athleticism, but his footwork got him open. That’s where he was so similar to Michael. He could just get any shot he wanted.”

Kobe was one of the greats at getting to his spots on the floor — the elbow or elbow extended, for example — and once there nobody was going to stop him. His footwork was part of that, but also was another area where Kobe’s career arc followed Jordan’s: Kobe relied on his athleticism more in his youth, but it was his footwork and guile that made him a force later in his career when he won his last couple of titles alongside Pau Gasol.

Kerr is also spot on that LeBron is a different kind of player — he’s always been more Magic Johnson to me than Jordan. LeBron is competitive and puts in the work — you don’t have an MVP-like run in your 15th season like he is without it — but he doesn’t broadcast it the same way. It bothers some that LeBron wasn’t more of a very public bloodthirsty assassin like Kobe and Jordan, but those people miss the mark with LeBron. What worked for Kobe is not one size fits all.

There is only one Kobe Bryant. Others will come along and try to emulate him, that’s the way the game works, but there will never be another quite like him.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.


Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

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When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.