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Phoenix Suns Free Agency: No LeBron, No Hayward... Now What?

The Phoenix Suns may have lost out on two of their top targets this summer. Now what?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

What many feel were the Phoenix Suns top two targets - LeBron James and Gordon Hayward - are now, reportedly, off the market.

Gordon to the Jazz, via Charlotte




Gordon Hayward was never going to leave the Jazz, so it's no surprise to hear they are going to match this offer sheet. That's likely why the Suns never went down that road any further than saying hello to Gordon as free agency opened. After being the bridesmaid on Eric Gordon in 2012, the Suns didn't want to do that again.

LBJ is likely out too

"By every source I have, there are just two considerations at this point - and that's Cleveland and staying in Miami."

--super-reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, on Fox Sports Live last night

Woj has not written anything on this, which means it's not really news even in Woj's world. But the writing does appear to be on the wall that LeBron has only two considerations left.

The Phoenix Suns were always a long shot, so this should not come as much of a surprise. The Suns are just not yet the preferred destination of the best player on the planet. You can get all huffy about it, but it is the way it is.

Brian Windhorst predicted this a week ago, right after news broke that the Suns were going to make a big pitch for LeBron and the running mate of his choice.

"I guess in theory that could happen, but I don't think it's likely. [LeBron getting Melo on board to Suns]

"As a journalist I say its possible because Phoenix is such a desirable situation. But we're talking a 1% situation.

"The other thing is, if Melo and LeBron are going to team up they could do it with the Lakers. I know the Lakers don't have the pieces and parts like the Suns have, but if they got together LA would be #1 on the list there."

--Windhorst, on KTAR 620 on July 1

But Windhorst wasn't discouraging the Suns from trying. He was just simply saying it was a little too early.

"It's free attention. It's a no brainer for the Suns organization to make their pitch. That would be a victory in many respects."

--Windhorst, on KTAR 620 on July 1

Maybe it was too early, after all. While the Suns are a great place with winning, young talent, many in the industry believe they need to do it two years in a row to prove it's sustainable. Everyone had career years. When that happens, you often find teams regressing the next year.

But the Suns got to the table, which is better than all but a handful of teams.

Next Steps

While the Suns waited patiently on LeBron, it doesn't appear they want to wait on restricted free agents from here on out or they likely would have gotten Hayward's signature on an offer sheet.

If that's the case, then you can probably rule out Chandler Parsons or any other RFA not named Bledsoe or Tucker.

The Suns should also rule out any midlevel deals. Why pay market price for an average NBA player when you've got equivalent or better talent on the roster for cheap rookie-contract deals?

The Suns should go the trade route now. They should look for an underpriced and/or underappreciated talent on another team and get them in Phoenix.

One such target could be Ryan Anderson in NOLA. The Pelicans have already committed to an Omer Asik acquisition to play next to Anthony Davis, which leaves Anderson out of the starting lineup. The Pellies also have to shed at least $5 million to afford to bring on Asik in the next couple of days.

Armed with a bunch of cap space, the Suns can easily absorb Anderson and - voila! - will have replaced Frye with a younger guy for basically the same money ($1 million more per season) for fewer years (2). That looks like a great option to me.

Another advantage to acquiring Anderson is that he would be a good trade asset in a Kevin Love deal if that ever comes back around. Anderson is a starting caliber PF, kind of Love-lite, with a sizable contract to help the salary matching as needed.

That's just one example of going in a different direction. Let's see how the Suns move to Plan B, whatever that is.

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