Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Good morning!! The Phoenix Suns officially begin their 2023-24 season TODAY, starting with the annual ritual of talking to a throng of media folk. Four of us from Bright Side will be there, hoping to get in some questions to the parade front office, coach and players.
Media Day begins at 10:00am and, if it’s anything like last year we’ll be there till after 1pm asking questions of player after player.
First we’ll get the ‘suits’. Not sure if new owner Mat Ishbia will be there to take questions, but we will certainly get to speak to James Jones at least. So much to ask about, since the Suns have 13 new players — and only returning Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Josh Okogie, Damion Lee and Ish Wainright — since we last saw them lace em up.
Then we get the new head coach coach, Frank Vogel. We have heard from Vogel before, but now he’s almost an entirely new roster and LOTS of questions about how he’s going to build a respectable defense while allowing his stars to be the stars they are.
And then come the players. One at a time, from the top of the totem pole to the bottom. This will be the first time we hear Devin Booker speak since before the Suns lost their last playoff game (he skipped postgame media AND end of season media interviews).
In the old days, we would all stand around the practice court, and the bit players would walk among us for ad hoc interviews. Made it easy to get your own exclusive quotes. The last few Media Days, though, have been parades to a single podium, one player at a time. Let’s see how tomorrow works out.
Four of us plan to be there — me, John Voita, Matthew Lissy and Damon Allred. We’ll pump out content as we can, but then again you’re already getting realtime updates from the Suns and the full-time beat writers. So rather than joining the deluge, we’ll probably focus more on unique takeaways that you won’t find anywhere else.
Have a question you really want answered? DROP YOUR QUESTIONS in the comments below, and we’ll try to get them answered today.
Quote of the Week
Grateful for the journey…for the people who supported me, cheered me on, challenged me & helped me grow. To the fans, teammates, coaches, staff, thank you. All love for the valley
LETS GO! Ready for the next chapter…excited to be a Trailblazer #RipCity”
—Deandre Ayton, on social media after being traded to Portland last week.
Suns around the web
Portland touting their new DominAytor!
dominAYTON in PDX pic.twitter.com/GO1WmF5Dvl— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) September 29, 2023
Ayton’s first spoken words after the trade (including “I feel like a just got drafted!”)... he seems pretty excited about a fresh start, but at the same time HAVE to point out to you guys that this is Ayton’s energy 95% of the time in Phoenix too.
some new faces in the building! pic.twitter.com/WGdj65B982— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) September 29, 2023
(of course, two days later the Blazers traded for C Robert “TimeLord” Williams of the Celtics, leaving the Blazers with the age-old question of whether to play Ayton at power forward like he always wanted)
ESPN: Inside the Blazers/Bucks/Suns trade, from Adrian Wojnarowski — really interesting notes on the Suns, for those who like to read tea leaves.
ArizonaSports: 36 Unbothered — season preview series
Fadeaway World — Bol Bol has league’s 6th-longest wingspan at 7’7”, but that’s still not longest on the team. Udoka Azubuike’s wingspan is 7’7.25”
Phoenix Suns — Damion Lee injured meniscus; out indefinitely
Good Bright Side reads you probably missed
Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.
- Rod’s Flashback Friday — The Suns All-Time Thieves Hall of Fame
- Kyle: Deandre Ayton is a good player, but it was time to let go
- Rod, GuarGuar, OldAz and Brrrberry — Inside the Suns: Replacing Ayton with Nurkic, plus other topics
Ohhhhhkayyyyyyy. The Suns made a big trade last week, so what does the roster look like now?
- In: Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson
- Out: Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara (R)
On the surface, the Suns actually took on more salary in the trade but right now they have 17 players on standard NBA contracts and can only have 15 of those by October 22.
Keeping it simple, the Suns only have to release two players by October 22 to meet the league mandate. Could be anyone, though the impact to the salary cap number varies depending on who is chosen.
Fifteen of the Suns contracts are guaranteed, meaning they would still count on the Suns books even if they are released. If the Suns want to rid themselves of a guaranteed contract without the salary still counting, they would have to trade one into someone else’s cap space. However, the only guaranteed contracts OUTSIDE the top four who can be traded this month are recently acquired Keon Johnson, Grayson Allen and Nassir Little. All the other guys are either non-guaranteed or were summer signings who can’t be traded until at least December 15.
Another way to reduce the roster AND the salary cap at the same time is to release guys on non-guaranteed contracts. The Suns have two of those. Over the next three weeks, Jordan Goodwin (age 25) and Ish Wainright (age 29) are going to have to play great to force their way onto the roster. We’ve long expected Goodwin to make the team but he’s going to have to fight like hell to stay on the roster. Training camp and preseason games will tell us a lot.
After the Ayton trade, the Suns appear to be way over the second apron, which would eventually impede their trade possibilities (but not before end of season, as you saw on the Ayton trade). But that’s with 17 players. Assuming they shed salaries when they get down to 15, the Suns might actually be really close to getting under that second apron number.
Here’s a look at the cap sheet totals with ONLY the guaranteed money on the books (14 players, not including two-ways). If the Suns release both Goodwin and Wainright, they’d already be under the second apron line.
Why am I grinding over this ‘second tax apron’? because being over that mark limits what the Suns can do with signings and trades to continue to improve the team.
During this coming season, if the Suns are over the second apron, they:
- cannot sign any high-salary buyout guys (who had more than $12.4 million or so)
- cannot acquire > 10% more salary than they send out in any trades
That means no more Terrence Ross signings after the trade deadline, and no more Durant and Beal trades the way they were done in bringing back significantly more salary.
However, as I wrote the other day, the Suns can sign someone like Reggie Bullock who only had a $10.5 million contract for this season before being released on Saturday.
And if the Suns are still over the second apron in April, they
- cannot pay more than league minimum for free agents from another team
- cannot trade the “seven years out” first round pick (2031)
- cannot acquire any players in sign-and-trade
- cannot send out cash in any trades
- cannot take back ANY more salary than they send out, not even a dollar
- can only do one-for-one trades for salary-matching purposes (no salary aggregation of multiple players)
If they remain over the second apron twice in the following four years (i.e. three of five), starting NEXT season:
- those future frozen draft picks are moved to the END of the first round (they can later be unfrozen if the team gets below the second apron 3 out of 4 years)
In short, trades get tough for the teams over the second apron, including the Suns, Celtics, Nuggets and Clippers (This list only leaves out the Warriors and Bucks because Klay Thompson and Jrue Holiday are merely Bird Rights free agents until they re-sign).
Important Future Dates
- TODAY!!!! Oct. 2: Media Day!
- Oct. 3: Training camp opens for the Suns
- Oct. 8: PRESEASON! @ Detroit Pistons and former coach Monty Williams
- Oct. 24: REGULAR SEASON! Start of 2023-24 regular season; Suns @ Warriors on NBA’s Opening Night on TNT to help open the 2023-24 NBA season.
- Nov. 3: NBA In-Season Tournament begins
- Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals
- Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals
- Feb 8: Trade Deadline
- Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
- April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends
This week’s poll
Who makes the most viral quote on Media Day?
This poll is closed
other (expound in comments)