Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
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 - The Suns have until Oct. 17 to sign Cam Johnson to a contract extension or let him become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2022/23 season. What do you think would be a fair extension offer for him and would you go a little higher to avoid possibly losing him (or having to overpay to keep him) next summer?
GuarGuar: I personally wouldn’t extend him right now I’d like to see how he does first as a full time starter. We have enough cap locked in already. I’d want to be 100% sure Cam is that guy for us going forward. Only way I’d extend him now is on a very team friendly deal around 10 million a year. I have full confidence in Cam for the record I just don’t think it’s wise to extend him right now.
OldAz: I think I wrote on in a comment section earlier this Summer that the limit for CamJ should be in the $15M range as his current skillset is replaceable in the $10-$15M range. Dave’s article from earlier this week reflected some of my logic based on what Cam provides currently and him not being a regular starter (yet).
If Cam J wants more than that, I would play out the year and see if he shows that ability, even if it ends up costing a few extra million. His “tweener” size makes it hard for me to commit much more until I see him show it. This is preferable to paying a player >$20+M per year when they are only worth $10-15M. This is also why Cam J is far different from DA last summer. Asking the Suns to pay the 35-40th highest salary to a player who had already demonstrated that they were the 35-40th best player (with potential to improve on that) should have been a no brainer and is ultimately where they ended up anyway. On the other hand, the Suns should only lock him up to in the $20-22M range very close to what Mikal got IF they believe Cam J will soon be a Klay Thompson type starter, in which case it would turn out to be a significant bargain.
Cliff30: I think if the Suns were going to work out an extension with Cam it would have happened already. They’re probably pretty hesitant knowing the LT implications an extension would bring. They already have 130 million committed to just five players next year. As for his contract he probably deserves something in line with the 4/75 Joe Harris got and the 5/90 Duncan Robinson got, and yes I’d go a little higher to lock him up now.
Jim C: Luke Kennard (25 years old) led the NBA in 3P FG% last year at 44.9%... Cam Johnson was 4th (42.5%) after stumbling a little at the end of the season after his injury. Cam averages more points, rebounds and steals per game. Kennard averages more assists and shoots free throws slightly better (89.6% vs. 86.0%). Cam played 1.2 minutes less per game (27.4 to 26.2).
Kennard is a guard and Cam is a forward, but both were super role players off the bench last season. Kennard signed a 4 year $64 million deal with a team option for the last year in 2020. Inflation adjusted that seems like about 4 years $80 million. Mikal Bridges got 4 years $90 million last year. If the Suns are looking at Cam as a potential starter, like I am, then that seems like a good starting point to me. Bridges contract would have to be the ceiling. He is a year behind Bridges so Mikal is actually still ahead of him for the next big contract. Maybe if they pay Cam the Mikal contract they can add in a team option or something to make the contract more team friendly.
Rod: I’d love to see the Suns sign Cam to a team friendly extension (which I consider to be anything under $15 mil) but it this won’t actually effect the cap until 2023/24 I could see them going over that. If you look ahead to 2023/24, the salary total that the Suns are committed to now is just a few mil over the projected cap and they could actually get under the cap by just waiving Cam Payne before his salary becomes fully guaranteed and a good deal under if they waive CP3 before he’s fully guaranteed. Of course things will certainly change between now and then but these the Suns aren’t locked into a continually decreasing amount of money they will have available to spend.
The effect this has on what the Suns can offer Cam J is that they don’t have to low-ball him to keep him and could likely afford to overpay a little now if they believe he will continue to grow and possibly turn into a starter instead of a 6th man. Of course they could also go the way they did with DA and just let the market set his value next summer by letting him become a RFA. It’s also important to note that signing him to an extension now would effectively turn his contract into a poison pill which would make him more difficult to trade until the extension kicks in in 2023/24.
Whatever the Suns decide to do I would be very surprised if they offer Cam as much as they gave Mikal Bridges. Around $18 mil per season would be the max I’d offer but perhaps James Jones sees a higher ceiling for Cam than I do.
Q2 - If the Suns start the season without any changes to the present roster, who gets your vote to be DA’s primary backup at center?
GuarGuar: I haven’t seen Jock play but I’d definitely say it’s Biyombo’s job to lose. He was solid for us last year and I expect him to be even better this year given consistent playing time. Hopefully he worked on his touch around the basket this offseason.
OldAz: I vote for the proverbial “Bullpen by Committee”. Monte is too quick to set a locked-in rotation, and going this way allows more experimentation and more opportunity for a newer player like Landale. Whoever among Saric, Biz, and Landale matches up the best or is playing the best at the time should get the minutes (or play some small ball minutes). At some point, one of them may prove to be the clear choice, but until then Monty should play them all.
Cliff30: I’d say it’s matchup dependent. Against smaller units Dario for his floor spacing, against bigger units it would be Bismack. I’d probably lean towards Bismack being the primary backup because we just don’t have the secondary rebounder and rim defender necessary to allow Dario to be the lone big on the floor defensively very often.
Jim C: I would be tempted to say Saric, but it might just be Biyombo by default because he is the only other plus rebounder on the team.
Landale - 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes. Saric - 7.9 rebounds. Biyombo - 11.9 rebounds. Biyombo is also the team’s best shot blocker and has a track record of playing center effectively in the NBA and is strong enough to body up most bigs despite being undersized (6’8” 255 pounds).
Situationally the Suns should be able to use Saric at the five, but with the team’s rebounding already being sketchy... they need a rebounder out there.
Rod: I think that Biz will likely get the nod on most occasions but Monty shouldn’t be inflexible as having Dario be the first big off the bench could be the better choice in certain situations. Biz is the better defender but Dario is the better offensive player so depending on the matchups I wouldn’t be rigid with my player rotation.
Q3 - Setting aside the outcome you may have wanted in the Sarver investigation, did you really expect anything different than what happened?
GuarGuar: I knew it would be hard for Silver to force him to sell without getting into a massive legal battle. That being said I expected the league to come down harder on him. Majority of the allegations ended up being true despite Sarver refusing them all when the Baxter Holmes report came out last year.
It’s not just racist remarks it’s sexism in the workplace and female harassment. 18 years of a toxic work environment is pretty substantial. The fact he still gets to call the shots but only from his house for 1 year is not enough of a punishment. The league has tried to give the impression these things have a zero tolerance policy but they truly showed where they stand.
OldAz: It is pretty much exactly what I expected (a suspension of some length with maximum allowed fine). Admittedly, I have intentionally not followed any of this as I prefer to watch sports as an escape from the noise and drama that seems to dominate every other aspect of society today. Unless there was a “smoking gun” video that surfaced, I never expected that the owners would hold a vote and thereby set a new standard for when they could possibly be forced to sell their franchises in the future. As such, this is both the most and least I expected to come from it.
Cliff30: I expected no punishment, I expected the NBA to say there was no concrete evidence and say they had no grounds to take action. And of the possible outcomes, this is the one I thought was least likely. They found the allegations to be entirely true, and they’re only suspending him. I thought they’d either sweep it under the rug or oust him.
Jim C: Here’s a tough question.
As I’m typing this I already know that the league royally screwed this up and Adam Silver looked like a 3rd grader giving his first public speech in front of the whole school. I didn’t expect him to look that frazzled. It was a horrible look for the league.
Then we have seen LeBron James, the NBAPA, Chris Paul, the mayor of Phoenix, minority owner Najafi and Paypal sounding off in that order (I think) and I probably missed more... with each of them alluding to or explicitly asking for Sarver’s removal.
At this point I think he will be removed.
I had already heard about the suspension before I read the report... so I wasn’t able to come to a conclusion about whether he should be removed before the suspension was issued. It would be revisionist for me to suggest I anticipated more or less than what was given.
Once I read the report I wasn’t surprised at all by so many people coming out against Sarver. What he did was terrible... and a LOT more people don’t like Sarver than do. He might be rich and powerful, but when he got into this mess it would have probably helped him to have more friends than enemies.
So... I guess I kind of did expect this... because Sarver has acted terribly and people don’t like him... and he deserves it.
The caveat being that in this country/world... the rich and powerful usually get away with being scumbags and we all know this.
Rod: I actually wasn’t expecting quite as much as did happen. As the other owners (at least 23 of 29) must approve actions such as these, I didn’t expect them to be too harsh though as many of them might be worrying about when it might be their turn sometime in the future. If anything can actually force Sarver out, it might be all the bad publicity and the high profile persons/organizations calling for him to be tossed out/leave. I’m not certain that will do it though and Sarver might be content to just ride it out for a year and come back claiming he’s a “changed person”.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Interesting Suns Stuff
Discussing LeBron James & Chris Paul releasing statements about Robert Sarver’s punishment | KJM
Adam Silver explains why Robert Sarver wasn’t forced to sell the Suns | NBA Today
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Do you believe Monty Williams can coach the Suns to an NBA title?”
53% - Yes, I believe in Monty!
37% - Maybe, but things would have to go just right.
10% - No.
A total of 337 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Do you think that the building pressure on Sarver to leave will eventually get him to resign as managing partner of the Suns?
This poll is closed