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Center of the Sun: Could Suns basketball return in July?

It’s very possible that televised NBA games will be back this summer but they might not include the Suns.

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

If the NBA is determined to salvage something of the 2019-20 season, it’s likely to resume in mid- to late July.

In general, how they will go about doing this will be closed arena TV broadcasting of live games. The specifics on how to accomplish this are still undetermined but many things point to it happening and happening in 2-3 months at the latest.

First, the players union recently informed it’s members that it could be June 15 before they know whether games will be canceled, and how many. That implies that June 15 is the deadline for when that decision has to be made. The longer the wait, the more likely that the season will be completely canceled or that the NBA will jump straight into the playoffs... which might be structured differently than what we’re all used to.

Teams have already stated that they would need a minimum of 3 weeks (preferably more) to prepare to resume play. If given the go-ahead to prepare for the resumption of the season on June 15, a restart between mid-July and August 1 would be the likely outcome.

Chris Paul, president of the players’ association, recently stated on ESPN’s The Jump that the players want to return to the court.

Obviously we want to play. Oh man, we want to play. We want to play bad. And I think that’s a consensus for the guys around the league. We want it to be, obviously, as safe as possible. But the biggest thing is, we miss the game.

Playing an even more prominent role in the desire to resume the season is revenue, more specifically the potential loss of revenue if the season is canceled. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) specifies that players and ownership split all Basketball Related Income approximately 50-50. Players are already seeing 25% of their paychecks being withheld because of play stoppage. They will get that back if the season resumes but, if it doesn’t, they all stand to lose 23-26% of their season salary based on how many games their respective teams have already played.

And, of course, any loss of revenue this season will affect next season’s salary cap and the potential earnings of every free agent looking for his next contract. Money could be very tight for many teams next season depending on how this ultimately plays out.

In 2016 the NBA salary cap made a huge leap from $70 million to $94 million which led to some really ridiculously large contracts for some players. If the worst case scenario comes to pass for this season (the complete cancellation of it and the playoffs), the loss of league revenues has been estimated by some to be so large that it could possibly drop the 2020-21 salary cap below that $94 mil cap figure for 2016. This could be a disaster for some teams, especially small market teams and those already expected to be paying the luxury next year at the old projected cap of $115 mil.

Several sources have reported the potential loss in revenue if the season is simply canceled would exceed $1 billion. As the salary cap falls, so does the luxury tax line. The teams already projected to be in luxury tax territory would face steeper bills and teams that were expecting to fall beneath the line could now wind up as taxpayers... unless they take measures to trim salary to avoid that unexpected bill next year. It’s possible that many teams could have zero cap space and as many as 25 teams could wind up with luxury tax bills next season.

Just in case it comes to pass that the season doesn’t resume, the NBA and NBPA also extended the 60-day window that preserves the league’s right to terminate the current CBA until the end of September. Terminating the present CBA and drafting a new one might be the best way out of a bad situation. Neither party really wants to do this but it might become a necessity.

As former Sun Jared Dudley recently tweeted, “No playoffs, no tv money, NEW CBA next year!”

If the 2019-20 season does resume this summer, odds are that a late December start for the 2020-21 season are in the cards. Unless they are somehow ‘condensed’, the NBA playoffs alone normally take up to 2 months to conclude which could take us through mid-September if they were able to begin in mid-July. How the NBA could squeeze in the 16-18 regular season games per team that were suspended before starting the playoffs is extremely problematic.

There just isn’t time to just pick up where things left off but just going straight to the playoffs doesn’t seem quite fair to the teams - and their fans - that would be left out. Especially those in the West who still had a fair shot at making the playoffs depending the outcome of those last 16-18 games. The Suns, unfortunately, weren’t one of those teams so unless the NBA decides to do some sort of pre-playoffs play-in tournament for at least some of the 14 teams presently on the outside looking in, Suns basketball very likely may be over until next season begins.

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Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - If the NBA ultimately decides to resume the season, what’s your “best guess” as to how it would be done?

GuarGuar: It’s looking pretty likely the NBA will come back this summer in some form. I hope that includes the Suns. I think if/when it does come back, it will be all the teams in the same city, like Summer League. It looks like Orlando and Vegas are the two choices if we go that route. And in order to keep these lottery teams interested there will be a play-in tournament for a playoff spot. It’s hard for me to imagine the league just resuming with a regular season schedule and forcing a team like Cleveland to have an entire training camp to play 4-5 regular season games in a lost season.

Sun-Arc: I don’t know if this is a best guess, but I’d love to see league to directly to a seeded 30 team play-in tournament (based on current standings) to get to the final 16. Then one-game playoffs to the finals. Then the finals would also be one-game. No series the entire time. Quick, exciting, and hopefully one-of-a-kind.

SDKyle: I think the most likely restart scenario is just a playoffs, featuring a small play-in tournament reminiscent of baseball’s wild-card system. Of course all games would be played without fans, which would be weird. Imagine Lebron James bringing the ball up against Kawhi Leonard in the closing seconds of a WCF game, and the only sounds are shoes squeaking on hardwood and players calling out defensive switches.

SouthernSun: I believe they will eventually finish the season in Orlando, with no fans. They will probably start within the next 30-45 days. The playoffs will then also be held in Orlando with no fans. Apparently it’s between Orlando and Vegas to be the one place it all happens at, and Orlando seems like the most logical.

Alex S: My best guess as to how it’d be done would be a “warm-up” for the postseason where they play anywhere from 5-10 games. These games will not have fans and be a testing ground for testing players and personnel in the building, also allowing for a 2-4 week window.

After that, then the playoffs will happen. I could see the NBA expanding the season all the way until closer to September to be honest. The December start date for the NBA seems inevitable to me.

Q2 - Frank Kaminsky is under contract for next season for $5 mil but the year is a team option. $5 mil is also the amount as Dario Saric’s qualifying offer*. If the Suns were to retain one of the two next season, which would you prefer that they keep on a $5 mil, one year contract?

* Another team could extend an offer sheet to Saric which the Suns would either have to match of let him go for nothing in return but I have my doubts that Dario or any RFA will be getting offers due to the probable drop in the salary cap next season.

GuarGuar: I’d definitely rather have Saric over Kaminsky because of Dario’s overall game. He’s a great team player and an underrated facilitator. His shot was a little disappointing this year but he’s shown to be somewhat capable. Frank was obviously not great this season, but we didn’t sign him to be our starting center. I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s shown this year, but I’d much prefer Dario.

Sun-Arc: Good lord, that’s an easy answer for me. Saric. ALL. Day. Long. Where it would get interesting for me if it came down to $5m Kaminsky or >$9m Saric.

SDKyle: Clearly Saric. Say what one will about Saric disappointing this season, but at least he is playable in nearly all scenarios. Kaminsky gets run off the court on defense and it becomes hard to watch. Statistically speaking they were basically equal players this season, but Saric just fits far better.

SouthernSun: I would definitely offer Dario the qualifying offer, risk him getting a offer in restricted free agency, and let Frank walk. I like Frank but he’s coming off an injury and the Suns need to spend money on a guard or starting PF.

Alex S: I would rather have Saric, even though he frustrates the hell out of me. He is the prototype for a starting 4 next to Ayton, but realistically he’d come off the bench at the 4/5. I still think the Suns try to upgrade the starting 4 this offseason, so I certainly envision one if not both guys gone.

Q3 - The Suns have many needs but one not often talked about is a backup shooting guard to play behind Devin Booker. Who do think would be a good trade target or free agent pickup to fill this spot in the Suns roster?

GuarGuar: We need a scoring threat when Booker goes to the bench. Our offense just tanks when he isn’t on the floor. Alec Burks comes to mind. He was somebody I wanted us to trade for at the deadline. Could be a really useful bench scorer and spot starter.

Sun-Arc: People are probably tired of me saying it, but I still think Fred VanVleet should be the guard we get. He can play either guard position and would be excellent with either Ricky or Booker. He’s a career .392% 3pt shooter, plays excellent defense, passes exceptionally well, and has always been willing to play whatever role his team needs. He played 54% of his time this season at the SG position, for instance.

The other player I think we should target (if Fred is not available) is Justin Holiday. He’s a really good 3&D type player who hit .415% of his 3’s, is 6’-6”, and plays defense. His advanced stats are right in line with Mikal Bridge’s.

SDKyle: Its hard to identify a good player I think the Suns would pay for to back up a guy like Booker who plays a ton of minutes. Joe Harris would be a nice get. Tony Snell could be good.

Realistically I’m thinking guys like those... veteran non-stars who can shoot.

SouthernSun: Bryn Forbes is my top candidate for free agency as a backup SG. The Suns need shooting and he has that in spades and shouldn’t be overly expensive. My trade option would be Tomas Satoransky, as he can play both PG/SG, so he could be out there alongside Rubio, Booker, or even Jevon.

Alex S: I keep saying anyone from the Nets, specifically Joe Harris. I would gladly take Dinwiddie as well but Joe is a FA and I cannot see BYK being able to retain him. The Suns stink at shooting and he’d be an immediate impact at the backup 2/3. Him and Cam off the bench for spacing sounds great, and you could even add Mikal to the mix for the 2/3/4.

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

2019-20 Season Highlights

Los Angeles Clippers vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | October 26, 2019

Devin Booker Full Highlights vs Clippers (2019.10.26) - 30 Pts, 8 Ast, 6 Reb!

Frank Kaminsky 18 Points/6 Assists Full Highlights (10/26/2019)

Quote of the Week

News & Notes

How Can Mikal Bridges Make The Leap? The Playgrounder

Al McCoy called out NBA officials after Suns’ 2007 suspensions vs. Spurs. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Jayson Tatum’s talent would’ve been squandered if he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. CBS Sports

Suns’ Devin Booker ‘confronted’ a draft analyst about his pre-draft ranking. Arizona Sports

Sun Rise: The oral history of Steve Nash joining Phoenix and becoming MVP. The Score

The NBA Story Lines Beneath the Surface: Pacific Division. The Ringer

This Week in Suns History

On May 23, 1976, the Suns played in their first ever NBA Finals game against the Celtics in Boston. The Suns put up 22 more field goal attempts than the Celtics (99-77) but an uncharacteristic poor shooting night for the Suns (.384 vs .472 season average) plus being outscored 20-11 at the free throw line led to a 98-87 loss to the Celtics. It was also the only game of the series in which Paul Westphal (8 points on 4 of 17 shooting) failed to score in double digits. Westphal’s FG% for the entire 1976 playoffs was .511.

Classic Suns Highlights

Walter Davis (40pts/Forces OT/Game-Winner) vs. Supersonics (1979)

Walter Davis 27 points/10 assists vs. Lakers (1984 WCF Game 5)

Suns Trivia

Walter Davis played 11 seasons in Phoenix and is the Suns all-time leader in points scored (15,666) field goals (6497) and field goal attempts (12,497). Only Alvan Adams (988) played more games in a Suns uniform than Davis (766). Walter is tied with Connie Hawkins for 9th in career points per game average at 20.5 and only Devin Booker has a higher all-time usage percentage than Davis (29.1 vs 27.5).

Previewing the Weeks Ahead

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “The Suns best win of the season was...”

45% - The 131-111 win over Utah.

16% - The 140-131 win over Milwaukee.

27% - The 130-122 win over the Clippers.

04% - The 122-116 win over Portland.

08% - A different win.

There were 49 votes cast.

This week’s poll is...


The NBA will restart the 2019-20 season in...

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    (45 votes)
  • 12%
    (10 votes)
  • 32%
    It’s done and won’t restart.
    (26 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now

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