For the Phoenix Suns to have flexibility to pursue top-end free agents, especially ones who swallow up most of their cap space upon signing, their non-guaranteed contracts all will likely reach the exact fate Tyler Ulis found out earlier today.
As Phoenix continues to load up on salary cap space, Suns are waiving point guard Tyler Ulis, league sources tell ESPN. Ulis, 22, will join the free agent market upon clearing waivers.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2018
After his promising finish to his rookie campaign, Ulis was hampered this past season by various injuries that saw Mike James and Isaiah Canaan usurp him in the rotation at times. The Suns’ point guard rotation was subpar to the point where they had to sacrifice a second round pick (No. 41 overall, which turned into Jarred Vanderbilt) for Elfrid Payton at the trade deadline.
Ulis averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 assists while starting 43 games, but shooting 28% on 3s for his career likely showed there wasn’t much else to offer from him. And with the addition of Elie Okobo, who was selected at No. 31, Phoenix now has someone who shot nearly 40% from deep for his French club Pau-Orthez.
Also, don’t forget about the incoming return of Brandon Knight, who suffered a torn ACL nearly one year ago.
With Okobo and Knight now in the rotation alongside Shaquille Harrison, who’s contract is also non-guaranteed but his commitment date isn’t right until training camp, Ulis was on the cusp of being the odd man who rarely saw any playing time. That’s not even including the rumored interest of Phoenix wanting to pursue a point guard during this upcoming free agency period, too.
This was the best move not only for the Suns, but Ulis as well. Waiving him now allows him to catch on to the best situation that will allow him playing time.
From Phoenix’s standpoint, now after pushing Davon Reed’s guarantee deadline past Summer League, they can create up to $18.5 million in cap space if they waive or trade Alan Williams by July 6. Williams’ contract could be used in salary dumps by other teams between now and then, allowing said team to waive him and not count anything against their cap.
If the Suns want to be super aggressive for one of the big fish targets in restricted free agency (ex: Aaron Gordon), they could also stretch Jared Dudley’s contract out to create just over $23 million in space to sign him to an offer sheet. There are a lot of avenues Phoenix could go over the next week, which makes this upcoming free agency period very intriguing for them.
Even though Ulis won’t be donning Suns colors anymore, he still had some incredible moments over his two seasons. I still remember Ulis pulling off some late-game heroics against Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics back in March, 2017.
Thanks for the memories, Tyler, and good luck!