The Phoenix Suns have very few impending free agent decisions to make this summer, with nearly all of their roster already under contract for the 2017-18 season. Trades and the Draft will shake up some of the contract players, but no matter what there are two players about to reach the (restricted) open market.
But backup centers Alex Len and Alan “Big Sauce” Williams will both become free agents on July 1 when the new league year begins.
The Suns can make each of them qualifying offers (ie. one-year contracts at large raises) to keep their right to match any contract offer from another team (restricted free agency). Or the Suns could renounce one or both players entirely to make said player unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.
Alex Len, the former #5 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, has not lived up the expectations that come with a top selection, but the 23 year old 7’1” 260 lb. center is still quite good at his position as a backup. He has career averages of 6.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 19.8 minutes per game. Still, one website would sign any of a dozen other free agent centers ahead of Len.
Alan Williams, undrafted out of an illustrious 4-year college career where he led the nation in rebounding and continues to rebound in the NBA, is the surprise near-equivalent to Len on the free agent market. Williams is highly effective when on the court. He posted 15 double-doubles in 18 games where he played 22+ minutes. The undersized 6’8” center ranks 14th among available centers and 80th overall, according to hoopshype.com.
Salary Cap Situation
This summer, the cap rises from $94 million to $101 million per team. Counting in the cap holds for Len and Williams (assuming the Suns make qualifying offers to Bird rights) and the projected #2 overall pick, the Suns have $15 million in cap space for free agents.
*We will deal with extension-eligibles in another article, but suffice to say the Suns COULD extend either or both Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler this summer. We will discuss the rules around those extensions later this week
Last summer, the cap jumped by almost $24 million and teams couldn’t spend it fast enough on mediocre centers. However, this year the jump is only $7 million, and many teams may have learned the lesson not to dramatically overpay a backup center.
Restricted Free Agents
The Suns have two restricted free agents this summer, both manning the center position. Len, 23, and Williams, 24, may or may not be hot commodities this summer at some point because they can hold down at least a backup position.
As centers, the Suns pair rank behind
- Greg Monroe (15th overall, among all free agents)
- Nerlens Noel (17)
- Mason Plumlee (21)
- Dewayne Dedmon (32) - strong defensive season out of nowhere for Spurs
- Kelly Olynyk (38)
- Aron Baynes (39)
- Nene (43)
- JaVale McGee (52) - currently propped up by the Warriors effect
- Christiano Felicio (61)
- Andrew Bogut (64) - still propped by the Warriors effect
- Zaza Pachulia (69) - still propped by the Warriors effect
- Alex Len (73)
- Roy Hibbert (79)
- Alan “Big Sauce” Williams (80)
- Marreese Speights (83) - currently propped by the Warriors effect
- no need to go on...
That’s a lot of center competition.
A year ago, comparable players to Len garnered contracts in the $12-18 million per year range.
But this year, the cap explosion won’t be quite as dramatic, which means there won’t be SO many teams with sudden cap space added to their coffers.
Will Len get a big free agent offer? Very likely. And it’s a big decision for the Suns to give up on a guy who profiles really well at this level but has never put together a consistent presence on either end of the floor beyond rebounding.
Will Alan “Big Sauce” Williams get his own big offer? That’s the big question. The Suns, who have lots of cap space of their own, likely will try to bring back Williams on a reasonable (under $10 million per year, short years) contract before free agency opens at all.
What would you do with Len and Williams, if both were offered $12 million per year or more?
This poll is closed
Keep Len for $12 million, let Williams go
Keep Williams for $12 million, let Len go
Let them both go if that’s the price
Keep them both for $12+ million each