Ah, Thanksgiving has finally arrived, and that can only mean two things — savings and fights with strangers.
Yup, ever since Black Friday swallowed up Thanksgiving, the annual harvest celebration has been more about harvesting the latest lightning deals on Amazon and punching one's way to the front of the 4K TV display at Best Buy than enjoying time with family and friends.
But everyone loves a deal, including the Phoenix Suns, so as we re-write the story of the first Thanksgiving to include Myles Standish and Massasoit clambering over each other for the finest ear of corn, here is a look back at the 10 best bargains in Phoenix Suns history.
(Note: Only the first season of free agent deals signed with the Phoenix Suns since the advent of unrestricted free agency were considered. Also, rookie-scale contracts were omitted.)
10. 1994-95, Danny Manning, $1 million
46 games (19 starts), 17.9 points, 6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 54.7 percent FG
Despite coming off two consecutive All-Star seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and earning a salary of $3.3 million in 1993-94, the Suns managed to secure Manning's services for a mere $1 million in the summer of 1994.
The cash-strapped Suns caught a break. Manning had grown tired of playing for losing teams and decided he wanted to win rather than cash in. He approached Phoenix about joining the team, which had just lost to the eventual champion Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals, and agreed to take a one-year, $1 million deal to finally play for a winner.
It was widely assumed that Manning agreed to such a cheap deal due to a wink-wink agreement between himself and the Suns to give him a significant raise the following season to repay the discount he took, which Jerry Colangelo followed through on despite Manning tearing his ACL during the 1994-95 season.
9. 2012-13, P.J. Tucker, $762k
79 games (45 starts), 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 47.3 percent FG
One of the few positives to emerge from the reign of GM Lance Blanks was the signing of P.J. Tucker to a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum.
Little was expected from Tucker initially, but he kept his head down and continued to earn playing time from the coaching staff at the expense of more expensive players who were supposed to be ahead of him in the rotations, eventually forcing his way into the starting lineup. Even as the season descended into darkness that year, Tucker remained a beacon of hope with his fearless and all-out play.
Unlike some of his teammates, Tucker didn't know how to Be Easy.
8. 2009-10, Channing Frye, $2 million
81 games (41 starts), 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.8 steals, 45.1 percent FG, 43.9 percent 3FG
Coming off two disappointing stops in New York and Portland, Frye needed the Suns as much as they needed him. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Phoenix and instantly turned his career around.
He turned out to be the perfect complement to those Steve Nash/Amar'e Stoudemire pick and rolls, setting up beyond the 3-point line and waiting for the kick out when the defense inevitably collapsed on the pair. Despite only making 20 3-pointers over his first four seasons in the NBA, Frye connected on 172 during 2009-10 (4th most that year), providing Phoenix with the court spacing necessary to surprise the NBA and make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
7. 1997-98, Clifford Robinson, $1 million
80 games (64 starts), 14.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, 47.9 percent FG
When Clifford Robinson entered free agency in 1997 after seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, he went in seeking a contract of around $6 million a year. He found no takers. Instead, he ended up signing for one year at $1 million with the Phoenix Suns in an effort to improve his value.
That year, Robinson quickly proved his value to the Suns, supplanting Hot Rod Williams as a starter and helping the Suns earn the No. 4 seed in the West with his play and veteran savvy.
6. 1999-00, Rodney Rogers, $2 million
82 games (7 starts), 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks, 48.6 percent FG, 43.9 percent 3FG
The Suns got more than they bargained for when they agreed to a three-year, $6.6 million deal with Rodney Rogers after the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.
The burly big played all 82 games for the Suns, coming off the bench for minutes at either forward position. His versatility and strong play helped Phoenix advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1994-95 and earned him just the third Sixth Man of the Year award in Phoenix Suns history at the time.
5. 2007-08, Grant Hill, $1.8 million
70 games (68 starts), 13.1 points, 5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, 50.3 percent FG
When the Suns signed Grant Hill with their biannual exception in 2007, everybody figured it was the seven-time All Star's swan song. Despite still putting up solid numbers when healthy, Hill had missed 374 of a possible 574 games over the past seven seasons with the Orlando Magic.
But Hill would find renewed life with the Suns and their training staff, starting 68 games for Phoenix while averaging the most minutes he had since 2004-05. His role became even more significant after the Suns traded Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O'Neal.
And Phoenix got all that from a guy making the least money he had in his career.
4. 2012-13, Goran Dragic, $7.5 million
77 games (77 starts), 14.7 points, 7.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 44.3 percent FG
The return of Goran Dragic to Phoenix would never have happened had owner Robert Sarver not overruled Lance Blanks and insisted on Dragic over Raymond Felton to usher in the post-Steve Nash era. But even when Dragic put pen to paper in the parking garage, the Suns couldn't be certain what they were getting in their new but unproven starting point guard.
As it turned out, Dragic outperformed the $7.5 million gamble by posting the best season of his career, with career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, and minutes. He also proved to be one of the most reliable players on an otherwise unreliable team.
3. 1996-97, Rex Chapman, $248k
65 games (33 starts), 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 44.3 percent FG, 35 percent 3FG
Rex Chapman became available to the Suns when contract negotiations between himself and the Miami Heat broke down and the money pool in the NBA had dried up. Still, the signing was a surprising one for a team with seemingly no need for another guard, but passing on signing a player to the league minimum who had averaged 15.7 points over his eight-year career wasn't something Phoenix was willing to do.
Even though the Suns already had Kevin Johnson, Sam Cassell, Steve Nash, Michael Finley, and Wesley Person to find minutes for, they agreed to bring King Rex into the fold. It was a good thing they did since turmoil and injuries would strip away much of that depth by the end of the season. When the dust had settled on the 1996-97 season, Chapman was the team's third-leading scorer. He would also hit one of the most memorable shots in team history against the Seattle Supersonics during the 1997 playoffs.
2. 2005-06, Tim Thomas, approx. $300k pro-rated
26 games (10 starts), 11 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 steals, 43.5 percent FG, 42.9 percent 3FG
With Stoudemire missing all but three games of the 2005-06 season due to microfracture surgery, the Suns needed big bodies to fill in. That need became even more pressing when they lost Kurt Thomas to a stress fracture in his right foot in late February.
Enter Tim Thomas, who had been waived by the Chicago Bulls on March 1 and quickly signed with the Suns for the pro-rated veteran's minimum. He soon slid into the starting lineup, and after helping the Suns secure a surprising No. 2 seed in the West, he upped his play further in the playoffs, including hitting a game-tying 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left in Game 6 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers that saved the Suns from a first-round elimination at the hands of Kobe Bryant and company.
Now that's value for your dollar.
1. 2004-05, Steve Nash, $8.8 million
75 games (75 starts), 15.5 points, 11.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.2 percent FG, 43.1 percent 3FG
Was there ever any doubt who would be first on this list? When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to match Phoenix's six-year, $66 million offer to the point guard, it set up the greatest value signing in team history.
Nash would only go on to spark the transformation of a 53-game loser into a 62-game winner, lead the league in assists, win the first of his back-to-back MVP trophies, take the Suns to the Western Conference Finals, and generally reinvent the way NBA basketball is played to this day.
Not bad for someone on a contract considered an overpay when it was first signed.