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Charania: Aron Baynes positioning himself for well over $10 million per year in free agency

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With the way Baynes kicked off the season, Phoenix may only have him around for one year.

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Aron Baynes waited eight years for the opportunity he has right now, and he’s taking full advantage.

After Deandre Ayton’s sudden 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s substance-abuse policy, Baynes stepped up from a top backup big to starting center until mid-December. With how Baynes has kicked off his 2019-20 season averaging 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 46.8 percent on threes, he’s earning himself his first huge payday during the 2020 offseason.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who spoke with one team executive about Baynes, the 32-year-old could be strongly coveted as an unrestricted free agent in July.

“He’s positioning himself for well over $10 million per year,” the unnamed executive said.

Charania also noted how after the Suns initially acquired Baynes on draft night from Boston, multiple contending teams were waiting for a possible buyout. However, Jones and Williams valued Baynes too much to let that happen as the Los Angeles Lakers and others were reportedly waiting.

If Baynes continues to keep up this level of production throughout the season, it might put the Suns in a tough predicament. Do you let a rotation piece who’s established as a vital cog to their turnaround walk, or pay up on a short-term deal?

That’s the question Suns GM James Jones and head coach Monty Williams will need to decide between now and July. Luckily, there’s still eight months to make a decision.

At this rate, I would lean towards Baynes being a one-year rental for Phoenix because the Suns need to focus on Ayton’s long-term development as the 1B to Devin Booker’s 1A. Baynes has proven he can be a starter somewhere in the NBA next season. Unfortunately, due to the 2018 No. 1 overall pick playing the same position as him, it won’t be back in Phoenix, unless he accepts a reserve role and takes a discount.

As a reminder, the Suns currently project to only have about $1 million in cap space in 2020, assuming they renounce Tyler Johnson’s $28 million cap hold. They can go over the cap to re-sign Baynes, Johnson and Dario Saric if they choose.

Even if Baynes turns out to only be a member of the Suns organization for one season, he’s made his mark. Impacting the game on both ends of the court like a top-10 center right now, Baynes has cemented his place in the early running for Most Improved Player.

Now, with everyone paying attention around the Association to Phoenix after their hot start, Baynes is primed to finally cash in after making just over $25 million in the first eight years of his career.

Poll

If Aron Baynes keeps this up, should the Suns pay him $10 million per year?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Yes, he’s a valuable piece
    (571 votes)
  • 22%
    No, it doesn’t make sense to pay a backup that much
    (169 votes)
740 votes total Vote Now