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Center of the Sun: It’s going to be an interesting offseason for the Suns

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

As of this moment, the Suns have a total of nine players under contract for next season, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson and Torrey Craig. Between those nine, the Suns payroll will total just under $129.2 million this season That alone puts them $7.2 mil over the salary cap ($122 mil) with a little less than $20 mil of salary space before reaching the Luxury Tax line ($149 mil). Just re-signing Deandre Ayton to anything resembling a max contract will quickly eat all of that up while leaving the Suns with five more roster spots to fill with only the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception and vet minimum exceptions left to pay those players with.

If the Suns want to bring back JaVale McGee and/or Bismack Biyombo, the only way they can do it by using those exceptions because they do not have Bird Rights to either of them. They also do not have Bird rights to Ish Wainright or Gabriel Lundberg but both will likely not demand more than a vet minimum contract (or perhaps even a two-way contract) to return. JaVale and Bismack likely won’t come back that cheaply though. Aaron Holiday (an RFA) is the only player other than DA that the Suns do own Bird rights to and can bring back at more than the minimum without using the MLE or BAE. The cap figures aren’t good for the Suns being real players in free agency and will most likely have to look to trades to attempt to improve their roster.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you already heard almost endless trade speculation involving Deandre Ayton. I have no idea what the Suns will do regarding his situation and won’t waste everyone’s time rehashing old ideas about it here. Instead I’ll begin with going over the most movable contracts the Suns have.

Jae Crowder ($10.2 mil), Dario Saric ($9.2 mil) and Torrey Craig ($5.1 mil) are all on expiring contracts. Cam Payne has two years remaining on his contract but only $8 mil of the remaining $12.5 mil he’s owed (the full $6 mil this season and just $2 mil in 2023-24) is guaranteed so his contract is ‘kind of’ an expiring too. Landry Shamet’s new 4-year extension kicks in next season but only the first two years (totaling $19.75 mil) are guaranteed. The Suns wouldn’t get much back in return for any of them singularly but they’re all fairly small deals that can be used for salary matching purposes in bigger deals.

To get something valuable back in an NBA trade, you’re going to have to give up something valuable. In order to do more than rearrange the deck chairs, the Suns will likely have to part with a quality player along with any of those to make any possible improvement. As teams can’t “bundle” other players in sign and trade transactions, if the Suns do a sign and trade deal with DA, no other Suns player will go out with him. Another trade would have to be in the works for that.

A fair amount of fans wouldn’t mind trading CP3 but that wouldn’t make a lot of sense unless they get another starting caliber PG back in return. His $28.4 mil salary this season coupled with the fact that he’s just turned 37 doesn’t make that an easy sell. Trading Booker just as he’s entering his prime years doesn’t sound like a great idea unless your certain to get an even better player back... and there really aren't too many of those out there, especially ones that other teams would likely be willing to part with. That leaves the “Twins”, Bridges and Johnson, as the remaining valuable trade pieces for the Suns. I have a hard time seeing the Suns giving up either of them although moving Johnson is more likely than Bridges.

I wish I could come up with a solution or even a suggestion as to what the Suns should do this offseason but that’s above my pay grade. There are lots of tricky problems ahead that Phoenix will have to figure out to actually improve this team. I’ve just tried to detail a few of them here. I hope that James Jones has a few aces up his sleeve or a rabbit in his hat that he can use to pull off what looks to be a very difficult task this summer.


2021-22 Season Highlights

ROCKETS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 4, 2021

HAWKS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 6, 2021

SUNS at KINGS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 8, 2021


Quotes of the Week

“I could sit here and make some excuses about stuff. I’m not going to do that.” - Monty Williams

“We got a whole Summer to build a better engine.” - Bismack Biyombo


News & Notes

Phoenix Suns: 3 offseason steps to take after embarrassing playoff exit. Sir Charles In Charge

Study Shows Phoenix Suns F Mikal Bridges is Hardest-Working Player in NBA. Yardbarker

Three Players for Suns to Land in Potential Deandre Ayton Trade. FanNation

The Phoenix Suns have some retooling to do. IECN

Bismack Biyombo Posts Thank You Message to Suns Fans, Teammates. Yardbarker

To-Do list for the Suns offseason includes trading a current starter. Sports 360 AZ

The Suns need their own ‘Deer District’ in downtown Phoenix. 12 News

10 NBA Free Agents Who Need a Change of Scenery. Bleacher Report


This Week in Suns History

On May 30, 1976, after getting down 0-2 against the Boston Celtics in the 1976 NBA Finals, rookie center Alvan Adams scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds along with 2 steals and a block to lead the Suns to a 105-98 Game 3 victory in Phoenix. The Suns took control from the start, building a 52-38 lead at the half and held on for the win despite a late run by the Celtics in the 4th quarter. A total of six Suns players had 2 steals in this game for a total of 12 vs just 5 for the Celtics. Paul Westphal added 22 points and 6 assists.

On June 1, 1993, Dan Majerle set a then-playoffs record by sinking eight 3-pointers during the Suns’ 120-114 win over Seattle in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. Majerle finished the game with 34 points and was 8 for 10 from three (80%) and made 70.6% of his FG attempts. The rest of the Suns team took only 2 shots from three and went 1 of 2. Sir Charles (Barkley) led the Suns in scoring with 43 points while adding 15 rebounds and 10 assists... without attempting a three point shot. Tom Chambers was the only other Sun to make a three in the game.

On June 4, 1976, the Suns lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics 126-128 in the first triple-overtime game in NBA Finals history. That game came to be called “the greatest game ever played” and Gar Heard’s buzzer beater at the end of the second OT to tie the game and send it into a third OT was dubbed “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”. Gar Heard set a then Finals record by playing 61 minutes. This record stood until Kevin Johnson broke it 17 years later when he played 62 minutes in the Suns triple OT win against the Chicago Bulls on June 13, 1993.


Classic Suns Highlights

Dan Majerle Career Highlights - THUNDER DAN!

Throwback NBA Finals 1993. Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns Game 5 Highlights


Suns Trivia

Suns Ring of Honor member Dan Majerle still leads the Suns in total three-pointers made in the playoffs with 115 and is 3rd on the Suns all-time leaders list in total regular season three-pointers with an even 800. First on that list is fellow ROH member Steve Nash with 1,051. Second on the list is current Suns’ star Devin Booker with 978.

Mikal Bridges is one of only six Suns players to ever be named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team since the NBA began naming an All-Defensive team back in the 1968-69 season, the Suns’ first season as an NBA franchise. The first Suns player to be so honored was Paul Silas back during the 1974-75 season. Silas was also the first Sun to be named to any All-Defensive team when he was named to the 2nd team in 1970-71. The other Suns players that received first team All-Defensive honors were Raja Bell, Jason Kidd, Dennis Johnson and Don Buse.

Devin Booker became the first Suns player to be named to the All-NBA First Team since both Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash were selected back in 2006-07. He is one of only eight Suns players to ever receive this honor. The first Suns player to accomplish this was Connie Hawkins back in 1969-70. The other Suns players named to an All-NBA first team were Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley, Dennis Johnson and Paul Westphal.

Dennis Johnson (1980-81) and Jason Kidd (1998-99 and 2000-01) are the only two Suns players to be named to both the first team All-NBA and first team All-Defensive teams in the same season.


Important Future Dates

June 23 - NBA Draft.

June 29 - Final day for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

June 30 - Teams can begin negotiating with free agents at 6:00 pm ET.

July 1 - Official start of the 2022/23 NBA league year. Moratorium period begins. Restricted free agents can sign an offer sheet. Teams can begin signing players to rookie scale contracts, minimum salary contracts, and two-way contracts. Teams can begin exercising the third- or fourth-year team options for 2023/24 on rookie scale contracts.

July 6 - Free agency moratorium period ends (10.01 am ET). Teams can begin officially signing players, extending players, and completing trades. The two-day period for matching an RFA offer sheet signed during the moratorium begins.

July 7-17 - NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)

July 13 - Last day for teams to unilaterally withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2022/23 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.