Suns’ Terrence Ross, Bismack Biyombo NBA teammates again for 3rd time
Feb 17, 2023, 1:27 PM
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — With the Phoenix Suns’ locker room opened up again this year after the pandemic altered the media setups for the last two seasons, we are more aware again of the personalities on the team and can better relay them to you, the reader, to provide a better idea of the dynamics on the team.
Here’s one that is there almost every time we step in: Bismack Biyombo is hilarious.
He can’t help himself sometimes, especially when we are talking to one of his teammates.
At one point when we were speaking with the beloved Mikal Bridges earlier in the year, Biyombo ended his crusade by jokingly declaring Bridges was toxic and very sensitive.
Mikal Bridges was speaking with us and Bismack Biyombo decided to stop by.
I knowingly asked a question about Biz (who has his locker next to Mikal). Banter between the 2 funniest guys on the team ensued.
Then Bridges caught a stray from someone else. They never stop with him. pic.twitter.com/EKn52kKm6t
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) January 22, 2023
Teams need a guy like that and it’s part of why Biyombo, 12 years in, probably has a few more NBA seasons ahead of him still.
All of this is to say new Suns guard Terrence Ross is going to settle in quickly, because on top of reasons we’ll get into, he has some familiarity with the Congolese big man.
Biyombo’s lone season in Toronto back in the 2015-16 campaign was with Ross, who was originally drafted by the Raptors in 2012. The next season, Ross was moved to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, which is where Biyombo had signed in the offseason.
They got two more years together in Florida before Biyombo was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets, and now five years later, they are reunited.
Their banter is back like they never even separated.
“I’ve been following him!” Ross said Thursday. “I told Biz, he’s always been messing with me, I told him I’m going to haunt him for as long as he’s been playing. I’m here.”
“I don’t like that. … I see his locker was next to mine, I was not happy about that. I’m extremely disappointed that he is here,” Biyombo joked, failing to contain his laughter to keep the bit up. “When I saw the news that he was signing here I was like, ‘Oh no. Not again.’ But, it’s just the NBA so I guess some people gotta follow other people. I must be a really good leader for him to follow me like that.”
Jokes aside, Biyombo instantly wanted Ross to come to Phoenix when it became a real possibility.
“When I saw that he was getting a buyout, I was hopeful that we could grab him,” Biyombo said. “That was the first thing I said, ‘Oh, we gotta get him.'”
After a late push by the Suns in Ross’ process that included last-second conversations with head coach Monty Williams and general manager James Jones on Ross’ role that made the Suns “just a better fit, better situation for me” as he put it, Ross was headed to the Valley.
“When I heard that we got him I was so happy because Terrence is just a dude that likes to play basketball, knows how to play basketball,” Biyombo said.
“Biz is a big personality. He’s a funny guy, we’re always laughing, always having a good time,” Ross added. “Feel like I’ve known him forever.”
To what Ross said, that’s important.
Biyombo noted that when he was a mid-season addition last year, his past relationships with Chris Paul and Elfrid Payton helped him assimilate faster. Those guys would ask Biyombo what he was eating that night, and he would give them the answer they knew was coming: Room service in the hotel.
“Come here to home!” Biyombo said they would tell him, to get a good meal in and not be isolated as the new guy.
As outlined, Biyombo went through this exact moment of adapting last year. He joined a contender, filling a need that gave him immediate playing time.
That can be a difficult situation to navigate. But Biyombo illustrated why it’s really not on a team designed like the Suns.
“When you play with a veteran team, the adjustment is much quicker. … You just gotta know where to be and do the right thing and play the right way,” he said.
Biyombo didn’t even get a practice in with Phoenix before playing a back-to-back. He was terrific, tallying 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes and then 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks in 29 minutes the following night.
All that time, Biyombo’s agent kept texting him, checking on how the veteran’s legs were feeling after being thrusted into that role right away (and not playing on an NBA team prior that season).
“My legs are fine! We got veterans,” Biyombo said with a laugh. “They just know how to move, how to be in the right spot and then you just do what you’re supposed to do.”
Biyombo pointed out how that Charlotte game was simple pass after simple pass he received. Catch. Dunk. Try and rebound everything else. Defensively, his teammates were going to be in the right spot, so it was just on him. His excellent veteran know-how didn’t let him down.
It’s a simple game sometimes, the beauty in Biz’s.
No matter how great a team is at the top, it will always need big contributions from its reserves throughout a run to a championship. That specifically applies to the Suns post-Kevin Durant trade.
“We need a strong second unit as well in order for us to be able to deliver,” Biyombo said.
He and Ross know first-hand how that works.
As Biyombo recited, those 2016 Raptors were facing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. In Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, Toronto was in deep trouble, facing a big deficit and potentially an elimination game on the road in three more days.
With 34 seconds left in the third quarter and the Raptors down 15 at home.
But they then went on a 17-2 run over the next six plus-minutes to tie the game before a huge win. Fifteen of those 17 points were scored by Toronto reserves, including six for Biyombo and a triple for Ross.
The Raptors won that series in seven games and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Who knows if they even escape the first round without that tremendous spurt from the bench?
In Ross’ Suns debut on Thursday, he showed some of that injection he can provide.
The veteran guard scored nine points across his opening shift, finding his signature spots in the midrange and zooming through his off-ball movements.
My favorite play of the night he made was his first. While taking the ball up in semi-transition, Ross glided into a pick-and-roll, rejecting the screen to set up a pocket pass to Deandre Ayton. That is true plug-and-play stuff.
Biyombo was involved too! He wasn’t even the first center off the bench, meaning he probably wasn’t slated to even play on Thursday, but Williams made a tweak and called upon Biyombo for four minutes in the first half. Biyombo gave him four awesome minutes.
Watch that first clip back and you’ll notice, yep, Ross covering for Biyombo on the box out. Veteran team, knowing where to be, knowing how to play basketball, just like Biyombo said.
The Suns had a blah start and were down 10 points in the first quarter, but by the end of Biyombo’s shift, it was a two-point game midway through the second quarter. That was thanks to what Ross and Biyombo did.
There will be a playoff game this duo swings. I’m betting on it.
Keep an eye on these two and how they impact games together (again).