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Suns salary situation still not "dumped": $4m to $8m in the tax hole

The Phoenix offseason has mostly been described as an exercise in cost cutting. No surprise there when your biggest move moves your biggest player/salary/personality/tweeter/mistake.

But now that things seem to be settling out, a quick updating of the numbers shows that the Suns roster as it appears today (with some minor speculation that Frye and Hill sign deals as reported) stands at $78 million dollars. That's million with an "M" and 78 as in 70 + 8  for those Base 10 fans out there.

With the all-important luxury tax line sitting just a few arena-priced hot dogs south of $70m, that means the Suns currently are $8m into the luxury tax hole. An increase of $3m from last season. All that from a team reportedly in salary dump mode.

Get it? The cheap-ass Suns and their poverty-stricken banker/owner are looking at a tax INCREASE of $3m from last season. And yes, that assumes Sasha Pavlovic gets waived but doesn't assume that Ben Wallace takes a discounted buyout. So, there's still hope for those that want to insist that the team from Phoenix is pinching pennies like those fools in Memphis or any of the other 23 non-tax paying NBA franchises.

For fun, I pulled out the pencil (you don't want to know were it was) and did some quick math and discovered the net savings from dumping Shaq was $3.6m assuming Hill gets the same deal and the Suns don't pick up Frye.

I guess so far you can say that the Suns traded Shaq for Channing Frye and $3.6m in savings but that wouldn't really be fair since we all assume that Ben Wallace will go bye-bye and leave in his wake a buy-out savings of some number of millions of dollars. My guess for some reason is that he takes $10m to go away, saving the Suns an additional $4m.

But who really knows. Maybe he takes $7m or maybe he decides he wants to play for this mighty Western powerhouse and he keeps his entire $14m so that he can retire in full Ben Wallace style (whatever that means).

If Wallace does take a $10m buyout then the Suns payroll drops back to around $74m which was pretty much where it was last season but it is close to an $8m savings from where it would have been if Shaq had stayed. Did you follow that? If so, congratulations and go directly to the CPA licensing office to collect your professional certification from the AICPA.

As for next season, if Amare doesn't flee or otherwise get run out of town, plus Nash and Hill and all those other guys on the payroll, the Suns are looking at 11 players under contract for ~$63m. That is right around where the luxury tax line is projected to drop to. But there's a bevy of player and team options there, so let's not worry too much about that right now. Next summer is a long way off -- 10 or 12 months, to be precise.

For the time being, the point is that this Suns roster -- minus Shaq but with a returning Hill and the addition of Clark and Frye and Wallace and Sasha's $1.5m guaranteed -- is sitting between $4m and $8m over the tax line. I think it is fair to say that we won't be seeing any more free agent signings in Phoenix this summer.

After the jump is the full roster and salaries for the next three seasons with some basic assumptions included...

Has anyone else noticed that you have to be both an accountant, lawyer, basketball scout, labor relations expert and shrink to really understand a professional basketball team?

PLAYER 09/10 10/11 11/12 Notes
Amare Stoudemire $16,378,325 $17,686,100   Player option for 10/11
Jason Richardson $13,333,332 $14,444,443    
Steve Nash $13,125,000 $10,000,000 $10,000,000
Leandro Barbosa $6,600,000 $7,100,000 $7,600,000 Player option for 11/12
Goran Dragic $1,836,000 $1,972,000 $2,108,000 Team option for 11/12
Robin Lopez $1,745,520 $1,867,320 $2,862,602 Team options for 10/11 and 11/12. Qual offer 12/13
Jared Dudley $1,307,640 $2,151,068 $3,114,746 Team option for 10/12/ Qual offer for 11/12
Alando Tucker $1,071,720 $1,934,455 $2,901,682 Team option for 10/12/ Qual offer for 11/12
Louis Amundson $855,189      
Ben Wallace $14,000,000      
Sasha Pavlovic $1,500,000     Assumes Suns waive him. $1.5m guaranteed
Earl Clark $1,471,900 $1,582,300 $1,692,700 Team options for 11/12 and 12/13. Qual offer for 13/14
Grant Hill $3,000,000 $3,200,000   Player option for 10/11
Channing Frye $1,900,000 $1,900,000   Team option for 10/11
TOTAL $78,124,626 $63,837,685 $30,279,730  
CONTRACTS 14 11 7  
CAP +/- $20,824,626 $10,837,685 -$23,250,270  
TAX +/- $8,224,626 -$162,315 -$34,360,270  

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