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Phoenix Suns next moves with Michael Beasley - waiving, stretching and depth charts

The question isn't whether the Phoenix Suns will release Michael Beasley. The question is when. The smartest move might be to wait until September to make any move on Beasley.


After getting arrested again this week for possession of marijuana, Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley has shown us that he's the same guy he has always been. And that guy is not worthy of a Phoenix Suns uniform.

Phoenix Suns managing partner Robert Sarver has another bitter pill to swallow. Twelve months after allowing the Suns to amnesty one of his biggest 2010 free agent signings, he has apparently decided to waive their biggest 2012 free agent signing. In total, he will likely be paying those two players $13.18 million this upcoming season to watch basketball from the sidelines.

Josh Childress was amnestied last summer to free up enough cap room to sign Eric Gordon to an offer sheet as well as bring in mercurial reclamation project Michael Beasley and starting point guard Goran Dragic. The grand plan of the summer of 2012 was a quick rebuild around those three players.

In the process, managing partner Robert Sarver agreed to continue to pay Josh Childress $21 million over three years to go away. The Suns are still paying Childress, who played a dozen games for New Jersey last season but is currently a free agent, $7.18 million this season and $7.37 million next season. None of that counts against the cap, but it's still money being paid.

Now, we should very quickly be adding another big contract to the "dead money" rolls. When Beasley is released, the Suns will still owe him $9 million in guaranteed money. A lot less than $21 million, but still a lot a chedda.

It hasn't been a good few years in the free agency market for the Phoenix Suns. I'll repeat what I wrote above. The Suns will likely be paying Childress and Beasley $13.18 million this year to watch basketball from the sidelines.

With Beasley's contract, the Suns still have options on how to pay it out.

The money

With the new CBA, if Beasley is released before the start of the next NBA season his money WILL be paid out over a longer period of time than originally prescribed. The "stretch" provision applies to all released player contracts signed under the new CBA.

Each team has the following options, per Larry Coon's FAQ.

For these contracts or extensions the remaining guaranteed salary for a waived player is "stretched" and paid in equal amounts over a greater time span, as follows:

  • If the player is waived from July 1 to August 31, then his remaining salary is paid over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one.

  • If the player is waived from September 1 to June 30, then the current season is paid per the normal payment schedule, and any remaining years are stretched over twice the number of years remaining plus one as described above. For example, if the player is waived on December 1 with two seasons remaining on his contract at $10.2 million and $10.5 million, respectively, then the current season (at $10.2 million) is paid normally, and the final season (at $10.5 million) is stretched over three years (one season times two, plus one) and paid in even amounts of $3.5 million per year.

In Beasley's case, if he is released today (August 7) then he will be paid $1.8 million per year for the next 5 years. Whereas, if he is released on or after September 1, then his current year is paid as prescribed with the remaining years stretched.

With 16 players under guaranteed contracts already, the Suns could easily (and smartly) absorb $6 million of that money this season, leaving only $3 million to spread out over the subsequent cap years.

That's the money.

The cap hit

But what about the cap? Well, the Suns have options there too. No matter when Beasley is released, the Suns have the option of either applying his $9 million with or without stretching it.

The Suns can apply the $9 million as $6 million this year and $3 million next year to clear Beasley off the books entirely in two years no matter how they are actually paying him the money. This would be a smart move if the Suns want to have the most cap flexibility in coming seasons. Though, once you approach the cap you can exceed it with exceptions anyway (room exception, Bird rights, etc).

Or, the Suns could decide the cap hits will match the payment schedule.

Either way, the Suns win.

*note: there's a rule that released players cannot be stretched en masse. You cannot stretch more than 15% of salary in any one year due to releases. In this case, Childress does NOT count because he was amnestied, not stretched.

Depth Chart

With Luis Scola and soon-to-be Michael Beasley off the team, the Suns are now thinner and more predictable at the power forward and small forward positions.

If Channing Frye returns to the lineup, the Suns will have the Morris twins and Frye in the PF rotation, with Frye also providing backup to Marcin Gortat, Alex Len and Miles Plumlee at C.

Marcus Morris will share time with Caron Butler and P.J. Tucker at SF as well.

Still, it's a logjam of players of roughly the same skillset who will want to up their trade/keep stock. Someone will be squeezed out, or traded, before the season starts. That's my guess.

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