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Center of the Sun: Without fans in the stands NBA and Suns face more revenue shortcomings in 2020-21

The salary cap will be artificially inflated for 2020-21 and maybe beyond.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

We are already fairly certain the the salary cap for 2020-21 is going to remain at or near it’s present level of $109 million. While this is likely the figure that will come to be, it will not be based on previous season revenues as has been the case in the past. Even with the resumption of the season in the Orlando bubble, the NBA lost a lot of money this season due to the pandemic and temporary shutdown.

The NBA and NBPA will continue to discuss modifications to the CBA to determine the final figures on 2020-2021 salary cap and luxury tax thresholds. They expect to have these numbers no later than Oct. 30. Next year’s cap will be set at an artificially high level to smooth out the financial impact on both the franchises and player salaries.

This has led to much speculation that many free agents may take one-year deals and players with player options will stay with their present teams in hope that the cap will go up in 2021-22. That is not a given though. The NBA lost a ton of money this year and, if they can’t bring fans back into the arenas next season, they could continue to lose money. With approximately 40% of team revenues dependent on putting fans in the stands, the NBA could be looking at another season of massive losses unless significant progress is made in controlling the pandemic. That adds up to the cap dropping instead of rising in 2021-22 and even less money available in the future for player contracts.

It’s not my intent to preach doom and gloom and claim that the worst case scenario is inevitable because it’s not... but neither is the best case scenario. The NBA and NBPA are discussing not only modifications to the CBA for the upcoming season but also what might need to be done beyond that for 2021-22. Once all the discussion has ended and agreements have been reached, all this info will go to owners, players and their agents so that they can all better plan for the future.

If there is a disappointing projection of future revenue growth next season, the outlook for many free agents to cash in on their next contracts could be bleak for a while. The top guys will still get paid but the lower tier players would likely be looking at significantly less dollars than they expected in their paychecks for a while and/or shorter contract lengths.

The impact on franchises means they will all have to get creative financially or consider paying luxury tax fees to stay competitive. For small market teams that rely on the NBA’s revenue sharing program to stay in the black, this could mean penny pinching just to survive. A confidential report from 2017 indicated that 14 of the NBA’s 30 teams lost money in the 2016-17 season before revenue sharing and 9 of those 14 were still in the red afterward. This past season was almost certainly worse and next season might not be much better.

Hopefully things will get back to something approaching normal in 2021 and the huge revenue losses of last season will be a thing of the past. With the Suns looking to finally be on their way up again, no one wants to see that derailed by financial problems.

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - What’s the biggest trade idea (involving trading one or more of the Suns’ best players) that you would be enthusiastic about?

GuarGuar: I’ve seen people talk about how if Giannis becomes available to trade for that we should send Ayton and fillers. Giannis has only 1 year left on his deal but if we did really well we would have the cap space to re-sign him. Giannis and Booker together could win a championship next season if they were paired (with a decent supporting cast). Obviously if we failed to meet expectations we would be losing out on years of Ayton. But it’s a risk I would certainly be ok with given the massive potential.

Sun-Arc: I haven’t been paying too much attention to trade rumors, but a couple I kind of like are these:

  1. Oubre + #10 for Dinwiddie + #19 (Getting Dinwiddie for three years would be great- but has a player option on the third, so have to assume he’ll get an extension and stay)
  2. Oubre + Rubio + #10 +2022 FRP for Ben Simmons (Big gamble, but Simmons with Booker, Ayton, Bridges, & Johnson… intriguing)
  3. Oubre + Rubio for Jrue Holiday (Same age as Rubio and not the passing maestro, but damn this guy is an improvement and imagine the defense around Booker with Jrue, Bridges, and Ayton)

I’m also still considering (only considering, mind you) Oubre + #10 for #2 in order to get Hayes. (Saves $7m in cap space to chase Wood or Grant, we get our PG of the future, and solve our backup PG issues)

SDKyle: I’ve always felt that there really shouldn’t be such a thing as an “untouchable“ player If the bottom line can improve the team. That said, I’d prefer not to trade Booker or Ayton just yet. But I would probably trade anyone else. If a team had an unhappy star and would take Bridges, Cam Johnson and a pick for him, I’d probably do that.

SouthernSun: I don’t think any big trade for a star is feasible this offseason, but I’d love for the following to happen:

Rubio + Oubre + Ty Jerome + Jalen Lacque + 10th pick + 2022 1st + 2024 1st for Ben Simmons and Shake Milton

Perhaps a third team taking on either Tobias or Horfords contract in exchange for some of the picks in this deal (and a player making a comparable salary, but fits better) is a possibility.

Suns would then:

  1. Cut ties with all of Saric, Baynes, Kaminsky, and Okobo.
  2. Pick up Payne’s option.
  3. Re-sign Carter to 2 years/5 mil (2.5 per)
  4. Sign D.J. Augustin to 7 mil 1+1 with team option on 2nd year
  5. Sign Justin Holiday to 6 mil 1+1 with team option on 2nd year
  6. Suns sign Patrick Patterson to 2 years/6 mil (3 per)
  7. Now at cap, sign Nerlens Noel using the Room Exception

Suns go into next season like this:

  • PG - Simmons - Augustin - Payne
  • SG - Booker - Milton - Carter
  • SF - Bridges - Holiday
  • PF - Johnson - Patterson
  • C - Ayton - Noel

Alex S: James Harden. Harden surrounded by shooters is already a top 4 seed in the Western Conference. Can you imagine pairing him with Devin Booker to support his closing struggles? The real question is whether or not you could get away without trading Deandre Ayton, but he would more than likely be the centerpiece now that Morey is gone. Let’s try this:

  • Suns receive: Harden, House Jr.
  • Rockets receive: Ayton, Oubre, Rubio, Johnson, 2020 first, 2022 first

This is entirely dependent on what the philosophy of the new GM for Houston will be, but it’s fun to imagine things!

Q2 - The Suns jumped from a .232 W/L percentage in 2018-19 to .466 this season. Do you think it’s likely that they make another jump next season and finish above .500? Plus, what do you think their W/L record would have to be to make it to the playoffs in the West in 2020-21?

GuarGuar: I think we are certainly capable of breaking that .500 mark this season. We showed in the bubble what we are capable of. And I think you are going to have to be a few games over .500 to make the playoffs in the West this season. New Orleans, and Golden State are coming for that spot as well as us. I’m hoping the Jazz and Thunder try and start a rebuild this offseason. That would certainly help our chances.

Sun-Arc: Too many unknowns to know with any certainty. I’d say if we run back the same exact team we will not make the playoffs and would merely flirt with a winning record. I know there will be changes, though. Let’s go the mid-route and say we retain Saric, Carter, Payne but drop the other droppable players, plus take Saddiq Bey at #10 and get Jerami Grant to start and have Oubre coming off the bench. At that point I think we definitely have a winning record and a good chance to make the playoffs with a W/L record of 45 or more games, which I think will be the minimum necessary.

SDKyle: A jump to over .500 is possible. There are a lot of teams that could be in the mix and it’s gonna be a dogfight for spots 5-8 next year. Probably will take about .500 to get in... I’m not predicting one of those years where 38 wins gets it done.

SouthernSun: I believe if they make shrewd moves this offseason, adding talent and depth and taking advantage of a soft free agent market, they can increase their win% above .500 next season. I have faith they do that, and will be at least a 42 win team next season.

To make the playoffs in 2021, they’ll need to win at least 42 games.

Alex S: I do. I’m not going to overreact too much from the 8-0 bubble run but I do believe the Suns are in a very good position to take yet another step next year. The guys are having fun, the coaching staff is doing a great job, they’re still young and growing, Deandre won’t get suspended for 25 games again *knock on wood*, and they’re one of the few teams with actual cap space to make improvements to the roster.

Pencil me in for 40+ wins right now barring some crazy offseason moves. In order to make the playoffs next season, I do anticipate the number to be around 45+ wins. This year, you weren’t required to be over .500 to make the playoffs but I do believe the depth of the West will rise once again with Golden State back in the picture.

Q3 - The later the 2020-21 season starts, the more likely it is that the NBA may cancel the All-Star game (and the All-Star break). Would that bother you and if it does happen should the NBA go ahead and have All-Star team selections anyway?

GuarGuar: I think it’s certainly possible there is no ASG this upcoming season given the logistics. It’s definitely too early to tell what the plan is, but it’s an interesting scenario to think about. It wouldn’t bother me if there’s no all-star game. It would bother me if there’s no all-star selections still. There absolutely should still be selections, regardless if there’s an actual game.

Sun-Arc: Not having an all star week will bother my 12 year old son a LOT more than me. I’ll miss some aspects, but I can definitely do without it for a year. They should definitely have All-Star team selections, though. If we had the team we had in 2016-17 with absolutely no all stars I’d say the NBA shouldn’t bother. But with Booker in the running, and the possibility of another player (Ayton? Bridges? Oubre? A new player?) it must be done.

SDKyle: I don’t care all that much if they cancel the All-Star game. But the NBA should still have all-star selections regardless, the same way college and high school leagues typically have all-conference selections without actually having a game. Its a point of pride for many fans and its fun, even if largely a popularity contest at times.

SouthernSun: It would not bother me in the slightest. The All Star game is the least interesting part of the season to me.

I do believe that, even if they cancel the all star game, they should still make all star picks and name all star teams. That’s how players are often remembered and stacked up against one another. People care more about who is named to the teams than the actual game anyway. They can treat it like the All NBA awards.

Alex S: I don’t see the NBPA allowing the NBA to eliminate the ASG/break to be honest. And it certainly would bother me as well as other fans. It’s important to celebrate the hard work the players put in and honor them accordingly. Maybe they make adjustments to the game/schedule of the break but I have a hard time believing they’ll cancel it outright.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!

2019-20 Season Highlights

NETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 10, 2019


SUNS at KINGS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 28, 2019

Quotes of the Week

“It’s a really exciting time to be a Phoenix Sun.” - Cameron Johnson

“The biggest thing is you just gotta win.” - Mikal Bridges

News & Notes

Opinion: Why Tyrese Haliburton to the Suns makes sense. Iowa State Daily

Phoenix Suns: 5 offseason roster moves they must make. Hoops Habit

Suns offseason questions: Is an effort made to create max cap space? Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

The Five Most Interesting Teams Heading Into the NBA Offseason. The Ringer

The real reason Earl Watson started Devin Booker over Brandon Knight during Suns stint. Clutch Points

NBA Salary Cap Comparison 2020. SLAM Online

Executives share worst interview answers from NBA draft prospects. Hoops Hype

  • Author’s Note: This article has nothing to do with the Suns but was a fun read especially since the Draft is coming up next month.

Consensus Mock Draft: In first look after Lottery, Edwards seems like lock at No. 1.

Draft Prospect Scouting Videos

Kira Lewis Jr - 2020 NBA Draft Scouting Video

Isaiah Joe Draft Scouting Video

Jaden McDaniels Draft Scouting Video

This Week in Suns History

On October 22, 1976, twin brothers Tom and Dick Van Arsdale played together in a game for the Phoenix Suns, becoming the first pair of twins to play for the same NBA club. The Suns ended up losing the game 111-98 to the New Orleans Jazz.

On October 23, 1993 , the Phoenix Suns defeated Italian League champion Buckler Bologna 112-90 in the finals of the sixth McDonald’s Championship, held at the Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany. Charles Barkley led all scorers with 28 points and was awarded the Drazen Petrovic Trophy as MVP of the tournament, after scoring a total of 52 points in two games.

Interesting Suns stuff

“Breakthrough” Episode 2: Young Wing Development

What The Phoenix Suns SHOULD Do In The 2020 Offseason

This Is Why Deandre Ayton Is The KEY To The Success Of The Phoenix Suns | Suns 2021 Playoff Run?

Suns Trivia

Only 10 players have scored more points than Devin Booker (6635) since 2016-17 (his first season starting from game 1). That number would be likely be even smaller had Booker not missed 46 games due to injuries during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Important Future Dates*

October 30 - Deadline to complete discussions on modifications to the CBA for 2020-21 season.

  • Author’s Note: The NBA will not lift the moratorium on transactions until the above is completed.

November 18 - NBA Draft.

December 1 (ish) - Free agency begins.

December 5/6 - Moratorium ends.

January 1 (ish) - Possible opening day for training camps.

January 18 (MLK Day) - Possible date for 2020-21 season opening night.

* Author’s Note: All dates except the Draft date and possible opening night date are my own approximations based upon the previous tentative schedule supplied by the NBA and/or recent information from various sources. All of these dates are still subject to change.

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “In 2011, instead of Markieff Morris, I wish the Suns had drafted...”

55% - Kawhi Leonard.

09% - Jimmy Butler.

33% - Either of the two.

03% - Someone else.

A total of 207 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Would you be upset if the NBA cancelled the All-Star game/weekend this season?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    (92 votes)
  • 18%
    Some but I could live with it.
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    (3 votes)
116 votes total Vote Now

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