Note: I could be entirely wrong on some of my conclusions. I welcome anyone who can provide evidence to the contrary.
We need to clear up some questions about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and its impact on the Suns this summer. We Suns fans are in territory we haven't been since 2005 - UNDER the salary cap, for purposes of signing new free agents.
One reason the Suns have not signed any players to big contracts in the past several years, or acquired huge contracts for nothing in return, is because they were not allowed to do so. Teams over the cap (salaries + cap holds + exceptions > $58.044 million) can only sign guys to $5 or less or exchange equal-sized contracts in trade.
Per Larry Coon's cbafaq.com, the Suns could position themselves in one of two ways this summer:
- As a team UNDER the cap
- As a team OVER the cap
- Have Beasley and Dragic wait until the Gordon offer sheet is resolved, before signing with the Suns. This one might work, and allows the Suns to keep moving forward without losing assets.
- Work out a sign-and-trade with New Orleans for Gordon in lieu of the offer sheet, sending out some salary to New Orleans to offset the Gordon salary, but it does NOT have to be a matching set of salaries. Both the Suns and Hornets are under the cap. The downside here is that the Suns lose assets.
- Work out sign-and-trades with Houston for Dragic and with Minnesota for Beasley. The downside of this is that the Suns lose assets (at the least, a second-rounder in each). This strategy, though, would allow the Suns to declare themselves "over the cap" as long as Minny and Houston are under it, so the sign-and-trades don't have to be matching salaries. If the Suns can do all this and declare themselves "over the cap" then they do get to keep the TPE for future use as well as the MLE for more free agents.