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Channing Frye on trade block, but Phoenix Suns should pass

Losing Channing Frye a year ago effectively kicked off the ruin of the 2014-15 season. But the Phoenix Suns should not use that regret to re-acquire Frye a year later.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to, Channing Frye is on the trading block.

Last summer, many Phoenix Suns fans wished the team had just matched the $8 million per year offer to the ideal stretch big man rather than bringing in a third point guard at nearly the same rate.

A year ago July, the Suns were shooting for the sun, moon and stars in courting the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and/or Carmelo Anthony to the team. To do so, they had to keep their cap space open until James made a decision.

In the meantime, Channing Frye didn't want to wait. He got an offer from the Orlando Magic to pay him $8 million per year for 4 years ($32 million total). He was reportedly frustrated by the Suns' free agency machinations, which included making him a secondary option, and (again reportedly) gave the Suns less time to match they wanted.

In the end, however it unfolded, the soon-to-be 32 year old Channing Frye was a Magic, and the Suns spent much of the next year reeling from that decision as much as any other decision they made in that time.

With Frye, the offense worked. Frye pulled big men out of the paint, leaving room for Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic to do their dancing in the paint. The spacing resulted in the league's most feared pick-and-roll duo, and one of the league's best offenses. In the locker room, Frye wasn't a loud voice but rather a calming influence for a young team and a touch-stone for Goran Dragic. The two always knew where the other would be on the court, and had each other's backs.

Without Frye, the whole 2014-15 season went off kilter.

  • Without Frye (and LeBron, Bosh and Anthony), the Suns spent the money on another point guard which muddied the playmaking waters.
  • Without Frye, they moved Markieff Morris to the starting lineup which weakened the bench unit.
  • Without Frye, they lost some of the veteran influence they really needed in the locker room.
  • Without Frye, the Suns lost their biggest non-point guard outside shooting threat.
  • And without Frye, Dragic lost his connection to the team and eventually demanded a trade.

You can argue that other Suns moves caused the hubhub, or that the Morris brothers would have ruined the show anyway.

You could also argue that Frye might have regressed with the Suns, and that trying to repeat the magic of the 2013-14 would have been an even worse decision than letting him go.

And you could argue that, by suffering for a year, the Suns are in a better place overall. And you may be right.

If the Suns had Frye's $8 million on the books in addition to their other contracts this summer, they would not have targeted Tyson Chandler or been in the running for LaMarcus Aldridge. Remember that the Suns spent Frye's money on Thomas, who was later traded for a draft pick at the deadline. With Frye on hand, the Suns would have been picking at table scraps this summer trying to improve a team built around a 29-year old point guard and 33-year old center combo.

Sure, new acquisition Tyson Chandler is 33 and Frye is 33. It may be a wash in terms of age, but the Suns may really benefit from Chandler's on-court captaincy of the defense in a way Frye never could.

The key for this season is 29 year old Mirza Teletovic to replace a lot of what Frye offered, and for Markieff Morris to replace the rest as he expands his game to the three-point line more and more. In addition to those guys, the center combo of Alex Len and Chandler might just solidify the defense.

Even if Teletovic fails, he's only under a one-year contract and can be replaced again. With Frye, they'd have been under his contract for three more years.

I hope Frye gets traded to a playoff contender. Just not the Suns.

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