With the July Moratorium only two weeks away the Phoenix Suns sit with just one point guard on their roster... three less than they opened the 2014-15 season with.
With Eric Bledsoe in the fold Phoenix already has a solid starter in place, but he's going to need some reinforcements... especially if the Suns plan on employing their dueling point guards strategy.
Here's a look at what awaits Point Guard U in free agency.
For more in depth analysis on some of the players mentioned below check out our own Samuel Cooper's Point Guard Free Agency Primer.
Dave King's cap breakdown also reveals that the Suns' best options here might be a minimum contract or possibly mid-level deal.
*All players are unrestricted free agents unless otherwise noted. R = restricted, PO = player option
Phoenix's Own Free Agent
Brandon Knight (R)
Wouldn't it be hilarious if the Lakers offered Knight a max deal just to stick it to the Suns? I have a weird sense of humor.
After waxing poetically about the young man's virtues and how he was a long coveted player the Suns managed to cozen the Bucks out of... I'm assuming he will be back in the fold. Which would be good, because Knight has the tools to be the best shooter and scorer on the Suns next season.
Stranger things have happened, though.
A new wrinkle this summer is the potential impact next summer might have on free agent deals. That offer sheet from the Lakers? It could be going to Jimmy Butler instead, since Butler might be entertaining the idea of a 2-3 year deal to maximize his future earnings as the salary cap increases. Will Knight join in the reindeer games and make his free agency period more interesting than the Suns' fans may care for?
Goran Dragic, Reggie Jackson (R), Rajon Rondo
These guys probably aren't in the Suns income tax bracket. Sure, Phoenix could scrounge up enough money to throw at one of these guys... but they won't.
Dragic is a quality player, but I'm not sure he's the best fit next to Bledsoe. Rondo, hysterically enough, might make even less sense. Jackson earned a payday, averaging 18 points and nine assists per game in 27 starts for the Pistons after being traded midseason. The Pistons, a team on the rise, will surely want to retain him.
Patrick Beverley (R), Jeremy Lin
Hard to imagine the Rockets let Beverley leave. He's a great fit there as an indefatigable defensive menace with James Harden taking a lot of the ball handling responsibilities.
It seems like Lin, who's only 26, probably won't be resigned to becoming a career backup. He still has plenty of basketball ahead of him and Los Angeles wasn't a good place for anyone last season. Are there 30 better point guards in the league than Lin?
C.J. Watson, Mo Williams, Aaron Brooks, Beno Udrih (PO), Steve Blake (PO), Jose Juan Barea, Kirk Hinrich (PO), Andre Miller, Ronnie Price, Jameer Nelson (PO), Raymond Felton (PO), Nate Robinson, Sebastian Telfair, Will Bynum
A team knows what it's getting with these players... which isn't much in some cases.
If the Suns are picking from this collection it's probably a situation where they just want a veteran presence from a player trying to get one last paycheck.
I think I like Watson best on this list. He has decent size for a point guard, scores efficiently, can hit the three, is a decent defender and isn't turnover prone. The downside is that he isn't a great ball handler or facilitator, making him more of a two guard in a point guard's body. Perfect for the Suns! He's also coming off a two year, $4 million dollar deal... so he wouldn't break the bank.
The potential problem here is that the better guys on this list will gravitate towards better teams and the worse guys on this list are the worse guys on this list.
Ish Smith, Cory Joseph (R), Norris Cole (R), Matthew Dellavedova (R), Donald Sloan, Shane Larkin, Kendall Marshall
Some of these are players are interesting. Others are just too young to put in the veteran section. Not a single one of these guys can actually shoot a basketball... probably a big reason they are all on this list.
Smith is a high energy player that does a lot of things well. Shooting isn't one of them. He was considered to be a glue guy in his previous stint in Phoenix, which could be a real plus for a team in need of a babysitter. The Suns could do worse.
Joseph played in 79 games for the Spurs last season, including 14 starts, while taking on a bigger workload due to injuries to Tony Parker and Patty Mills. A full time rotation player for the Spurs might be able to sneak into Phoenix's top 8-9. The 23 year old is a restricted free agent, but Parker and Mills are both under contract and the Spurs have a lot on their plate in free agency.
Cole had a resurgence after being dealt to the Pelicans last season, perhaps to the point where the Pelicans are interested in bringing him back. Which would be fine because I think the Suns can do better. Cole doesn't do many things very well for a two time NBA champion.
Dellavedova became an overnight sensation when Stephen Curry had a bad shooting night, but as the NBA Finals progressed it became painfully obvious that his offensive limitations are staggering. He's a good energy guy, but don't depend on him to run an offense or accidentally score a few points here or there.
Sloan was part of the revolving door backcourt in Indiana last season as five different guards started between 21-40 games for the Pacers. Sloan is slightly younger than C.J. Watson, but is probably a slightly inferior player.
Larkin played a lot of minutes for the New York Knicks last year... because it was the Knicks. He would be comparable to taking on a rookie, since he is young (22) and has some upside. He is a smaller player, though, and was barely passable in his role on an atrocious team.
Marshall is one season removed from averaging nine assists a game while shooting 40% from three point range. Seriously, check for yourself. Unfortunately, Marshall is coming off an ACL injury that might threaten his world class athleticism. This would be a pretty funny development, so I'm on board.
Cameron Payne, Jerian Grant, Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Terry Rozier
Draftexpress.com has these aspiring NBA players mocked between 14-29 in the first round of the upcoming draft. That means the Suns could select one where they sit at #13 or move down/acquire another late first round pick to select one. Who knows, maybe they'll end up with two of them.
A player like Grant, who will be 23 on opening night, might also be better prepared to transition into a rotation than someone like Jones, who is just 19.
The Backup Plan
McNeal's contract becomes guaranteed on July 21st. That means he will have to survive the gauntlet of the draft, free agency and the Vegas Summer League to earn a spot on the roster. Even if he sticks, it might be more of a lack of a better option than a vote of confidence in McNeal's ability to run an NBA team. Hopefully it would be the latter.