CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte Bobcats draft pick Bismack Biyombo and his Spanish club have scheduled a mediation session Friday in hopes of settling a dispute over the contract buyout required before he'd be allowed to play in the NBA.
Jorge Sanz, spokesman for the Madrid-based team Fuenlabrada, said Biyombo has two seasons left on his deal and his buyout clause is more than $1.4 million. NBA rules say the Bobcats can't pay more than $500,000 toward a buyout.
While Sanz said the team has accepted and won't fight the 18-year-old Congo native's desire to leave, it expects to receive the buyout.
"We have to reach an agreement over the compensation for the club," Sanz said. "On July 1 there is a mediation session. We are asking for the million euros that is stated in his contract. If we don't reach an agreement, it will go to court and a judge will decide."
Biyombo, who is in Charlotte working out this week, told reporters Friday he was a "free agent" and the buyout wasn't a concern.
"I'm going to play in the NBA next season, for sure, 100 percent," Biyombo said.
Biyombo's agent, Igor Crespo, didn't immediately return messages Tuesday as the Bobcats declined comment.
A team official whisked Biyombo away from reporters as he was about to work out at the team's practice facility. Bobcats general manager Rich Cho didn't return a message, then declined comment through a team spokesman.
Another team spokesman interrupted a question directed at coach Paul Silas about Biyombo's contract and said the team couldn't comment on the issue.
The Bobcats were more open about Biyombo's contract immediately after the draft, when Cho said he expected the issue to be resolved before next season.
"He's got a dispute with his Spanish team," Cho said. "It's something we're going to have to address. It's a little bit complicated."
Cho had been a fan of Biyombo since he traveled to Spain in May to work him out while he was Portland's general manager. Soon after, the Trail Blazers fired Cho. But he was then quickly hired by Charlotte and continued to pursue Biyombo.
Cho pushed for a three-team, draft-day deal that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan agreed to that sent top scorer Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee and gave the Bobcats the seventh overall pick from Sacramento.
The Bobcats used that selection on Biyombo, who had a triple-double that included a record 10 blocks in the Nike Hoops Summit game in April. The Bobcats have high expectations for Biyombo, even though at 6-foot-9 there is concern whether he'll have to play power forward and not center.
"I think he can be both, to be honest. His upside is still tremendous," Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said. "The attributes this young man has is right in your face with is athleticism, his ability to block shots, his ability to change ends of the court. I think his offensive game is obviously untapped. I'm sure our coaching staff is looking forward to working with him."
Other players, though, have had to wait to come to the NBA.
Ricky Rubio stayed with his Spanish team for two years after being the fifth pick in the 2009 draft by Minnesota because of a large buyout. Rubio announced this month that he would join the Timberwolves.
If Biyombo is forced to pay the buyout, it would be a large chunk of his scheduled $2.4 million salary next season under the current NBA rookie scale. But the possible NBA lockout could also affect Biyombo's future. The labor dispute threatens part or all of next season.
Associated Press Writer Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.
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