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Report: Suns likely to make a strong push for Terry Rozier in free agency

Phoenix reportedly offered a protected first-round pick in the preseason for Rozier and seem intent on continuing their pursuit soon.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns and Terry Rozier have long been connected since before this season even started. 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro reported back in October that both Ryan McDonough and James Jones tried to trade for Rozier before ultimately settling on a 1-year deal for Jamal Crawford.

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Boston declined a proposed trade from the Suns that would’ve sent a protected first-round pick for Rozier. The Celtics said no because they wanted Phoenix’s pick to be unprotected. O’Connor also mentioned that the Suns’ interest remains strong in the 6’1” point guard as free agency inches closer.

“Rozier will also be a restricted free agent, with Phoenix considered by league sources as a team likely to make a strong push for the point guard,” O’Connor said. “The Suns offered a protected first-round pick for Rozier before the season, but Boston demanded an unprotected first, per league sources. Were Irving to leave, Rozier would be his logical replacement in the starting lineup.”

Boston severely underachieving this season has opened the door for Kyrie Irving to bolt. Unless GM Danny Ainge decides to move all-in for Anthony Davis sending Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and other parts in the process, Irving seems likely to don blue and orange in New York alongside Kevin Durant.

The Davis domino is the ultimate decision that will change the league-wide landscape. If the Knicks win the draft lottery, it’s possible they could ship the rights to Zion Williamson for Davis pairing him with Irving and Durant. So many possibilities exist for the NBA to change in an instant this offseason.

How this impacts the Suns hinges on whether they want to match an offer sheet for Rozier or not. The big question is how much will the contract cost on their books? All indications point to Rozier wanting at least $15 million per year (something along the lines of $15-16 million over 3-4 years), which would put him right around league average in terms of highest salaries at the point guard position.

Trying to connect the dots, Ray Spalding was signed earlier this week through the rest of the season with partial guarantees for 2019-20. His agent is Aaron Turner. Ironically enough, Turner’s biggest client is Rozier.

Is this an instance of doing a favor and having it paid back in short order? Sure seems that way, especially after O’Connor’s report.

Rozier was in the same draft class as Devin Booker, but he’s yet to have a campaign with a plus-40 shooting percentage. So far this season, Rozier is averaging 8.8 points, 4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 steals while carrying a field goal percentage of 37.6.

The former Louisville Cardinal is struggling trying to adjust back to his bench role (22.9 minutes) after his initial breakout during last year’s playoffs (36.6 minutes). While starting all 19 games in place of an injured Irving against the Bucks, 76ers and Cavaliers, Rozier amassed 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals with a 53.8 true shooting percentage.

Back at our Bright Side Night 2019 exclusive Q&A session with Co-Interim GM James Jones, he mentioned that the future was now, in terms of ascending up the proverbial ladder, and free agency was their most plausible route to go down.

Rozier, who will be 25 later this month, fits the timeline of adding win-now players instead of waiting multiple years on developing draft prospects.

“When you draft as high as we have in the draft, top 5 / top 10, that’s a potential proposition where the best player could fit you right now maybe a college guy — a four year guy someone who’s more mature 22-23,” Jones said in January on Bright Side Night. “But if you take a guy in the top five, everyone wants you to go get a guy who can be the next Hall of Fame point guard at 18 or 19. If you add an 18 or 19 year old with a 20 or 21 year old (current Suns core timeline), you have that “point guard of the future” but the future is now. So, that’s why free agency or the draft are your two options. For us, it’ll most likely be free agency.”

As the Suns’ salary sheets currently stand (not including draft pick), they have a projected $15 million available without any moves beforehand. That could be enough to sign Rozier to an offer sheet right at the beginning of free agency to put even more pressure on Boston as ‘Kyrie Watch’ reaches its climax.

With Rozier and the Suns continuously being linked the past five months, odds are he is their No. 1 point guard target on the open market.

D’Angelo Russell’s breakout season with Brooklyn makes it unlikely they won’t match anything thrown his way. Ricky Rubio is another name to watch, but he could re-sign with Utah or go join a team closer to contention instead like Indiana for example.

Circle back around and Rozier stands out more, even though there is legitimate questions about whether his inconsistent production deserves a big payday out of it.

Another connection currently on the Suns’ staff as it relates to Rozier is Cody Toppert. Phoenix’s Director of Player Development helped train Rozier during the pre-draft process and continues to do so during summers.

Add all of these up and seems like a collision course is ongoing between Rozier and the Suns. The end result will likely end with Rozier signing an offer sheet and putting the ball back in the Celtics’ court to match amidst chaos of the Irving melodrama.

If the Suns add Rozier into the core they have led by Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, it gives them four of their five starting positions secured long-term with the only question remaining at power forward. Ideally, that gets solved on its own May 14 with Phoenix hoping they get lucky again landing Zion Williamson at No. 1 overall.


Should the Suns sign Terry Rozier to an offer sheet (4 years, $60-65 million)?

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