My guess about what’s gonna happen a week from now in free agency…

This Thursday :

Suns will draft a guard who can preferably defend the perimeter, make some plays for himself and others and/or shoots from deep (2M$)

This week/week-end :

Paul opts out of his 44.3M$ expiring.

Starting next Monday (in order) :

- Paul signs a 3-year 90M$ deal with the Suns, declining salary (8%) so that’s 32.5M$ in 2021, 30M$ in 2022 and eventually 27.5M$ in 2023-24.

- Payne signs a 3-year 25M$ deal with the Suns, 5% raises (early-Birds) starting at 8M$ in 2021-22.

- One of Craig or Nader (my guess is Craig) is kept for wing/forward depth (4th/5th in the rotation depending on Stix’ development) at 3M$ (starting) over a couple of years.

- Suns use their full non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign a primed backup big. My guess is it’ll be one of Holmes (unlikely, long shot), Noel, Theis or Olynyk.

- Suns trade Carter for another type of backup guard who’d complement Payne better. Salary would have to be around Carter’s (i.e. below 4.5M$ for luxury tax reasons). Another way to achieve that would be to dump Carter for infamous Cash Considerations and after that use the BAE or the DPE the league will grant the Suns very soon.

- Suns add an undrafted rookie to the fold via the second 2-way contract available (a wing/forward would be my guess)

- Suns very likely don’t use their BAE nor DPE (4.25M$, half of Dario’s salary next season). Maybe they can do it at the deadline (unlikely for luxury tax reasons to avoid paying taxes THIS coming season) or next offseason (BAE unlikely because of expected " apron " next year, no DPE available at that point)

- Suns extend DA (designated player max contract so potentially anywhere from ~170M$ to 205M$ over 5 years) and Kal (90M over 4 years, 20M$ starting salary with 1.6M$ annual raises i.e. 8% of starting salary)

This specific scenario rotational outcome going forward :

CP3, CP15, rookie (29)

Book, XX (Nader in-house??), Ty-Shon (2-way)

Kal, Cam, YY (2-way)

Jae, Torrey, Stix

DA, Noel/Theis/Olynyk, Dario

This specific scenario financial outcome going forward :

- Salary cap expected at 112M$, luxury tax at 136.5M$ and apron around 143M$ this coming season

- Total Suns payroll at EXACTLY 136.5M (even if just a buck below the tax, it’s good )

- Huge luxury-tax hit expected in 2022-23 and 2023-24 unless vets like Dario or Jae are dumped before the last year of their respective contract (2023-24). Only one year as tax repeaters (2023-24) before they can " reset " with CP3, Jae, Dario, etc coming off-the-books.