Per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, now of ESPN and long time curator of NBA sources, the Phoenix Suns are now looking to acquire additional assets - young players and/or picks - as the price of taking salary off another team’s books that needs the cap relief.
So, the roster is largely the roster, including the newly added Mike James who has a full NBA contract (not a summer contract or a two-way) which reportedly has some guaranteed money in it.
It’s quite a young roster, with only old man Jared Dudley (31 years old) and older man Tyson Chandler (34) slated as the sage veterans in the lineup of lower-20 somethings. Only Brandon Knight (25) and Eric Bledsoe (27) count as players in their prime, and Knight’s future* in Phoenix is cloudy to say the least.
*The Suns still owe Knight $56.5 million dollars over the next three years, all guaranteed as NBA contracts often go. So he’s hard to move, and hard to keep in the rotation if he can't make 40% of his shots. The Suns could technically waive him and use the stretch provision to pay his salary over 7 years instead of 3. But that’s a bad option too. Why commit 7% of your cap each of the next 7 years to dead money?
The taking on of contracts
While it may have looked a little like the Suns collecting assets at the last trade deadline, that was not the same.
Last trade deadline, the Suns took on the contract of Mike Scott from the Atlanta Hawks but that was only for the Suns’ own benefit - to reach the league-mandated salary floor - and just required cash to be sent back to Atlanta. Scott was immediately waived.
The other trade was veteran P.J. Tucker going out to Toronto for two future second-round picks. Again, not quite the same.
This summer the Suns have anywhere from roughly $13 million to $27 million in cap space, depending on Alan Williams and Alex Len (restricted free agents) as well as the unguaranteed salaries of Derrick Jones, Jr. and Elijah Millsap.
The Suns could conceivably release Millsap and DJJ, and renounce Len and Williams and get $27 million in space if they really wanted to.
What the Suns would like is a reverse Kurt Thomas trade. They’d love to take on a serviceable veteran AND/OR a pick or two, however far in the future.
It’s quite possible that Boston will need someone to take on Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley just to fit Gordon Hayward into the salary structure. Kelly Olynyk has already been released, but one more move is necessary. Stay tuned for that outcome.
Otherwise, the Suns are sitting clean with cap space at the moment and a full roster of young players needing to learn to play together.