Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Suns team.
In this weekly article, we focus on you the community to tease out the good and bad of the Suns. With free agency set to open this Monday, we’re focusing on potential free agent acquisitions.
First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - What are some “bargain bin” veteran free agents (on vet minimum 1-yr contracts) that you think the Suns should attempt to add to their roster?
GuarGuar: I really don’t think there’s many good options that will be cheap this year for us. Acquiring a cheap 3rd string center would probably be ideal. Someone like a Boban or Biyombo could be cheap enough.
Sun-Arc: These are the guys I like that are near the bottom of the list of top 50 free agents according to Sports Illustrated:
- JaMychal Green
- Jeff Green
- Nerlens Noel
- Reggie Bullock (if we need wing depth for some reason)
- TJ McConnell
- Adam Caruso
- Austin Rivers
Either of the Greens are good role players for a contender. Noel is less tested there - and he’s so darn light. But he’s shown to be a rotational piece that can even start in a pinch and do alright against the non-huge big men.
Reggie played well for the Knicks, can defend and shoot.
If we want more of a combo guard, McConnell, Caruso or Rivers would do. I hate both of the latter two guys, and they may damage chemistry. But they are useful players.
SDKyle: Let me first start out by saying I’m not sure who on the free agent list is actually going to take the minimum and who might still be able to get a few million bucks. That said, I’d try to address the Suns’ bench size issue by exploring some options like Demarcus Cousins (if he can vibe with the Suns’ culture), Dewayne Dedmon, or Hassan Whiteside. None of these are guys you can expect to run out on the floor for 20+ minutes 82 games a year, but they could be a big help in limited minutes when opponents try to go big against the Suns.
SouthernSun: Dieng, O’Quinn, Jordan McCrae, McGee if he’ll take it. Lots of options there. Could always keep Galloway and Moore around if they feel like staying. Torrey is the dream on one of these, but I’m not sure he sticks around for so little.
Alex S: This is a tough question because I can’t fully project which FAs are “vet minimum” versus a MLE/taxpayer level player but I’ll do my best. My honorable mentions who won’t make this list due to being a bit more expensive are Reggie Bullock, Daniel Theis, and Nerlens Noel.
- Dwight Howard
- Garrett Temple
- James Johnson
So these three are the best I could come up with based on the criteria. I think Howard would be the only of the three who could actually get minutes as a consistent role player but I like the other two for versatility and matchups.
Q2 - What free agents (including their own FAs) should the Suns consider offering the MLE ($10 mil/1-3 years) and BAE ($3.7 mil/1-2 years) to?
GuarGuar: I’d like to use our MLE on a true backup center. Nerlens Noel, Serge Ibaka, Daniel Theis, Cody Zeller, and Javale McGee are all guys I’d be very interested in going after. I can’t imagine our BAE acquires any player who will get meaningful playoff minutes because it’s cheap so it’s hard to say who to go after with that.
Sun-Arc: I must admit that I am not really good at assessing what players should be paid. Though the “bargain bin” players I mentioned could be signed with either the MLE or BAE depending on who bites and what we need.
Though some other names I would throw in to consideration for the MLE range, if Jones likes a player, might be:
- Danny Green
- Nic Batum
- Kelly Olynyk
- Lauri Markkanen
- Kendrick Nunn
- Derrick Rose
I do not know whether all these guys would take the MLE to play for the Suns. Some might need less than that. And some, like Markkanen, would have to be someone Jones and Monty really like.
SDKyle: I’m not going to try to name specifically who should be targeted with which exceptions, because I think the numbers are fairly similar for our purposes reading tea leaves here. Basically I would look to use these exceptions for a quality of player that might be slightly better than you could get at the vet minimum. Guys like Paul Millsap, Kelly Olynyk and Daniel Theis are intriguing guys who might also be possibilities in this range who could help address the bench size issue. Not starting-quality guys at this point, probably guys who may even get some DNP-CDs, but probably able to command more than the $2 millionish vet minimum. Torrey Craig is a Sun who I think could fit in here on the low end of this, too.
As far as scorers, I wonder about Alec Burks as an MLE. I like him because he’s a sharpshooter (over 40% from downtown last season and a blistering 47% from the corner) who has a lot more shot-creating ability than either Bridges or Cam Johnson: only 43% of his 2pFGAs and 69% of his 3pFGAs were assisted this past season.
SouthernSun: The Suns shouldn’t use the MLE on any of their own free agents. Payne, if they want to bring him back, can be brought back on early bird rights on a deal up to about 10 mil a year. So no need there.
As for others, Cody Zeller makes sense.
Also keep in mind the taxpayer MLE is different than the non taxpayer MLE, so which the Suns have will be different based on what happens with CP3. Tax payer MLE is different. Its about 5 mil. That could go to say... Nerlens Noel.
After getting Landry, I’d assume that's their primary guard acquisition of the off-season, other than bringing back Payne, so the Suns will be looking at using whichever MLE they have on a big who can run the floor and protect the rim.
Alex S: I would offer the MLE to Cody Zeller and would offer the full BAE to Torrey Craig. Look, my original answer was based on CP15 for the MLE but the Suns have the luxury of expanding their efforts beyond just retaining Cam due to bird rights so I had to think of a player off the top of my head who could fit what the Suns are trying to accomplish. I recall the Zeller interview recently about wanting to play for a contender and the recent trade Detroit and Charlotte made around Mason Plumlee shows that he’s good as gone at this point. His athleticism, size, and experience would be a welcome addition and more importantly fill a hole the Suns had exposed in the NBA Finals.
Q3 - NBA rules on re-signing free agents using Early Bird Rights limit the Suns’ to $10 million per year and 2-4 years (with no options allowed until the 3rd year). This is the maximum that the Suns can use to bring back Cameron Payne. Should the Suns go ahead and make him an offer for the full amount and over how many years should his contract offer run?
GuarGuar: I’d definitely offer Payne the full amount. He’s emerged as one of the best 6th man candidates in the league. He’s shown he’s a capable fill in starter when CP is out. I wouldn’t low ball him because we know he’s going to get big offers from other teams. Would love to bring him back.
Sun-Arc: This is kind of a tough decision, IMO. Though I err on the side of thinking Payne has turned the corner as an NBA player and will continue to be who we saw last season moving forward. Again- I’m not good at defining what players should get paid, but I hope $10m/year would be on the high end for him to stay.
The number of seasons is tough too. But, sure, three more seasons would be great.
SDKyle: I’d say yes because a contract of that size is going to look fairly reasonable for one of the better bench point guards in the league. It’s possible Payne doesn’t have another season quite this good, but even if he’s just an average bench PG going forward, does a three-year $30 million contract seem like a ripoff? Nobody is talking about what an albatross DJ Augustin’s contract has been the past two years, right?
SouthernSun: I wouldn’t immediately offer him that amount and bid against yourself. Maybe he gets that, but I think the Suns and him end up agreeing on something like 3 years/24 million, about 8 mil a year. Something like that.
If he gets 10, I don't see it being longer than a 2 year deal.
Alex S: Somewhere around the 10 mil range should be the goal but I’m not going to act surprised if the value went a bit behind that. Why wouldn’t the Suns look to run it back? Continuity is only going to help this team and the reality is if the Suns are looking to improve their team, they should be looking at the trade market to see if they’re able to make a move that’s going to improve the 9 man rotation. Bring back Cameron for the 9 man rotation with the likes of CP3, Book, Mikal, Jae, DA, Cam Johnson, and hopefully my two additional signings (Cody and Torrey).
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
Free Agent Scouting Reports
2021 Free Agent Scouting Reports: Nerlens Noel
2021 Free Agent Scouting Reports: Cody Zeller
2021 Free Agent Scouting Reports: Jarred Vanderbilt
2021 Free Agent Scouting Reports: Daniel Theis
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Will CP3 stay with the Suns next season or move on to another team?”
68% - Stay.
32% - Move on.
A total of 286 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Getting Landry Shamet via trade was...
This poll is closed
A good deal for the Suns.
Not good enough. I’d rather have Jevon Carter and the 29th pick.