The Quiet Before the Storm
The Phoenix Suns are in a tantalizing position and we are all held hostage by the endless scenarios. What is Ryan McDonough going to do? I know the Sun's front office has been a quiet bunch, but this silence is almost eerie. Something has to be happening here, right?
We don't need to dive into the details, but now that Frye and his cap hold will be relinquished, the Suns have about $28-29 million in cap space available. This depends on the handling of the non-guaranteed contracts of Ish and Dionte. From my understanding, Sarver is willing to go way over the cap, and all the Suns need to keep is about $1.2 and $6.6 million available to resign both Tucker and Bledsoe (their cap-holds).
The Suns can spend about $28 million on free agents before they even bother re-signing Tucker and Bledsoe, in which they can then go way over the cap. Hypothetically, just to comprehend the mass cap space the Suns possess, Phoenix could sign LeBron to his $20 million, Matt Bonner or Anthony Tolliver for a small chunk of change, and even sneak in an Isaiah Thomas multi-year deal at about $7-8 million per.
Now, I am saying all of this hypothetically, even though I am advocating for Isaiah Thomas. Obviously there is no chance at LeBron, but a Bledsoe, Goran, and Thomas back-court would be exhilarating.
However, the defensive aspect of that back-court would be questionable
brutal at times and it would stall the development of Ennis, Goodwin, and eventually BOGDAN BOGDANOVIC.
I cannot help but acknowledge Thomas and how lethal he was as a scorer last season (coincidentally the Suns have had a meeting with him now, but this is new news to me). He had to contend with Rudy Gay and Boogie Cousins for shots and he still averaged over 20 a game (21.1 per 36 to Goran's 20.8). Thomas averaged more assists and almost as many steals as Goran as well.
Yes, Isaiah was on a bad team, but he is an elite scorer. People consider Dragic to be an upper echelon mid-range shooter, but Thomas is significantly better.
Goran is also elite at the rim. He converted 69.6% of his shots within 0-3 feet. Outstanding. Isaiah Thomas and all 5'9'' of him finished 68.5% from the same area. Goran took 35% of his shots from within 3 feet, while Thomas only took 19%, but both are elite finishers around the cup.
Could you imagine Gerald Green and Isiah Thomas coming off the bench together?
The team would stand with Goran, Thomas, Green, Markieff, Marcus, Warren, Ennis, Goodwin, Plumlee, and Len. That is a nice nucleus. Not to mention a plethora of first round picks in the coming years. If you could entice a max contract guy into that situation we are capped out in terms of free cap space. Then we can utilize bird rights.
Now with all of our free cap-space gone, we could still sign Bledsoe (Max) and Tucker to a fair market deal (3/4 for 15/20?) He actually just signed for 3/$16.5. Those deals would put Phoenix at about $14 million over the cap (including the max contract). That puts the Suns right at the luxury tax line and only about $4 million away from the hard cap, if I figured that correctly. Sarver did say he wants to spend big.
Goran, Bledsoe, and Thomas paired with a max free agent would be an odd, but exciting big four. Even if you forget the max guy, I am actually intrigued with Ryan Anderson's services if his neck checks out. He would replace Channing perfectly and with the Hornets looking to bring in Omer Asik, it may benefit them to shop his contract.
Goran, Bledsoe, Thomas, and Anderson. A mini-four as opposed to a big four? That group (a long with Green and Markieff) would give team fits offensively.
Can the Suns afford to be patient? There is still $28 million for the Suns to play with. LeBron is heading to Miami or Cleveland. Hayward is gone. Parsons gone. Ariza, no thanks. Deng? Nah. Greg Monroe? Nope. I am sure a proper stance may be "Be patient until next off-season, then go all in on Love or another big free agent". The issue with this is, if we stand pat and only re-sign Bledsoe and Tucker, the Suns will have about $16 million in free cap.
Then comes the increased cap holds of both Morris brothers, Gerald Green, and Goran Dragic. You can renounce their bird rights to increase the cap space necessary for a max contract, but then you lose the ability to sign those players once over the cap. Goran's cap hold will exceed his salary number, so that hurts too.
That is why if the Suns are going to make a big move and keep the core together, it kinda needs to happen soon. Unless I am figuring this cap situation entirely wrong.
Even Sarver has mentioned how the cap situation is "unique" this season, and will change drastically next season. If only the Suns could convince someone special of what type of situation they currently have...
Additionally, the 2015 free agent list is not a gold mine in terms of attainability. Kevin Love would be a tough grab with 29 other teams wishing and maneuvering for his services. LaMarcus Aldridge seems content in Portland? Is Paul Milsap worth big money? Yea he is a stud, but also underpaid big-time right now and he is starting to really stretch his shooting. Tyson Chandler? Deandre Jordan? Marc Gasol seems happy in Memphis? Amare? Thad Young? Rudy Gay?
Some really good players on that list, but if Plumlee and Len develop, not sure if Gasol/Jordan make sense. If Markieff takes another leap, are you maxing Aldridge or paying big money for Milsap? Rudy Gay is intriguing, but at what price? How much will Gerald green drive-up/down his market value? Elite three point shooters make cash in this league.
So many questions, and not many answers. I can't see Ryan McDonough allowing this unique and abundant cap-situation going to waste. SOMETHING HAS TO HAPPEN! Awful anxiety.
McStunna has mentioned numerous times about "Staying the course" and not deviating from the plan. Patience. I just don't see the allowance for patience. I hope this front office isn't patiently waiting and considering settling. In losing Channing Frye, the Suns need to find a replacement of some sort of talent (not necessarily a stretch 4/5). If they do not replace him, they are taking one or two steps back in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. They need to at least reach the cap floor anyway, so some type of action must take place.
Waiting for the likes of Goodwin, Ennis, Warren, Len, and Bogdan Bogdanovic seems like a nice long-term plan, but McDonough has the assets to make a big winner right NOW. Maybe I am overreacting or assessing this situation incorrectly, but something is brewing. A big trade is in the works. A sneaky asset acquisition
(Amare's massive expiring).
Who knows. I don't, you don't, and I don't think McDonough knows, but he is working the phones and exposing our assets to other GMs. One day, very soon I feel, we will all have some closure. We will wake up to a bomb-shell or a crafty maneuver, but the silence has to end. It has to.
Now that I had this article basically complete, lets dive into the most recent speculation, which I have already "hypothetically" touched upon.
A Scoring Machine. Isaiah Thomas is super talented.
What about Tyler Ennis? Well, who cares? Ennis will never average over 20 points a game. He might not ever average over 6 assists per game. If the Suns can go get Thomas for 3/$24 range, that is a solid price for a guy who can fill it up like Thomas. I like Ennis, and I think he was a safe pick at 18, but he is expendable. Sorry.
The Suns would have the most potent back-court in the league. Gerald Green would see more time at the three, but that is fine. Goodwin's development will be stunted, and that is fine too. Let him play 36 minutes a night in the D-League. The Suns have missed on everyone else, and as I have noted, they basically need to spend the money now. A lot of it. They have a chance to get one of the most lethal scorers in the association, and I say they do it.
Aforementioned, Thomas scores slightly more than Goran and he is a better assist man. They are both 20-6-3 players. Throw in Bledsoe, another 20-6-5 potential type of point guard, how would any team guard the Suns. Who would the Suns guard?
Doesn't matter, just throttle em. Roll em. 110 Points per game. Just hose them. Maybe we could see a Thomas, Bledsoe, Goran, Plumlee, and Len lineup, eh?
Just noticed, Thomas and Goran's turnover rates were both 11%. Both have similar usage rates, and I already noted the similarities with points, assists, and rebounds. When Bledsoe was out, Goran went off. The three primary scorers were Goran, Green, and Markieff. As I said, Thomas had to fight for shots with Gay and Boogie, so despite the poor team record, Thomas can score on any team, I believe that.
With Tucker's signing of 3/$16.5, the Suns have cut into that $28-ish million they have to spend. Now its down to about $24-ish million. If they sign Thomas to a 3 yr/$24 pact, then they are down to $16ish million of free flowing cap and they can still sign Bledsoe to a full max salary (about $8million more than his cap hold). The Tucker signing, potential Thomas signing, and Bledsoe max would leave the Suns with $8-9 million in cap moving forward. They could go way over that cap number if they retain the in-house players, but not if they want to sign a star. So what will the Suns do next?
In McDonough we trust.