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Suns free agency: Team’s own won’t be in high demand

The Phoenix Suns best players remain under contract, but will need to fill out half the roster with minimum salary guys

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are championship contenders with their best players under contract for at least three more seasons.

The Suns fifth best player probably won’t get better than a league minimum salary offer on the open market this summer.

These statements might seem incompatible but they’re quite true.

A typical 15-man NBA roster has a balance of big ($20+ million), middle ($3-19 million) and small contracts (under $5 million) that looks something like a bell curve, yet the Suns cap sheet if more top-heavy than most.

The Suns are very top heavy at the moment, with only half of last season’s roster under contract for the upcoming season.

  1. Kevin Durant — $47.6 million — 2nd highest in league
  2. Devin Booker — $36.0 — 23rd
  3. Deandre Ayton — $32.4 — 39th
  4. Chris Paul — $30.8 — 42nd
  5. Landry Shamet — $10.2 — 134th
  6. Cam Payne — $6.5 — 176th
  7. Ish Wainright — $1.9 — 301st

Those seven contracts still add up to a lot, though. The $165.61 million not only exceeds the league’s expected base salary cap ($134 million) but also exceeds the expected luxury tax threshold ($162 million).

The rest of the Suns roster now becomes free agents like at least 225 fellow NBA players who are now joining thousands of basketball players from around the world who would love to sign a new NBA contract.

Of the Suns impending free agents, only Torrey Craig made more than the league’s veteran minimum or less (prorated or two-way).

  • Torrey Craig — made $5 million in 2022-23 — Unrestricted Free Agent (Early Bird)
  • Bismack Biyombo — vet min $2.9 million — UFA (EB)
  • Darius Bazley — $2.8 million — Restricted free agent (Bird rights)
  • T.J. Warren — vet min $2.6 million — UFA (non-Bird)
  • Damion Lee — vet min $2.1 million — UFA (non-Bird)
  • Josh Okogie — vet min $1.9 million — UFA (non-Bird)
  • Jock Landale — $1.2 million — UFA (EB)
  • Terrence Ross — prorated vet min $.9 million — UFA (EB)
  • Saben Lee — $10,000 — RFA (Two-way)

You might notice a couple of things. The amount of the ‘veteran minimum’ varies based on years of service in the NBA, from $800k to $3 million, and players signed mid-season (Ross) get a prorated portion.

Another thing you might notice: the Suns got all these guys on the cheap last summer. Torrey Craig is the only one making more than the vet minimum, but he will have a really hard time making more than the vet minimum this time.

So now the Suns face another summer filling out their roster with limited spending power, much like the last one. Without any trades, the Suns will have only:

  • one $7 million taxpayer midlevel exception (base salary, up to 3 years with 5% raises)
  • ability to bring back Torrey Craig, Jock Landale and/or Bismack Biyombo with small raises (Early Bird Rights)
  • unlimited number of $2-3 million veteran minimum contracts

The Suns are one of 10 teams about to enter free agency in July with access to less than the league’s mid-level exception of $11 million per year, while 11 of the other 20 teams will have $20+ million at their disposal to throw at free agents.

Here’s an early list of impending free agents, thanks to

Ranked 52nd: Torrey Craig, who started 60 of 79 games last season for the 4th seeded Suns, comes in as the Suns highest-ranked free agent. His stat line — 7.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 39% three point shooting — won’t blow anyone’s doors off and he will be 33 years old next season.

Ranked 58th: Josh Okogie started 25 games last year after having played out his rookie contract with the Wolves. The former first round pick never developed an offensive game, and settled for the minimum with the Suns. Still, he’s just 25 years old and getting better.

Other players ranked here in the 50s around these guys who will probably get the league minimum on their next team: Yuta Watanabe (Nets), Shake Milton (76ers), Talen Horton-Tucker (Jazz), Jevon Carter (Bucks), Jaylen Nowell (Wolves), Dwight Powell (Mavericks), Reggie Jackson (Nuggets).

Jock Landale comes in at 63rd, Damion Lee at 66th, Terrence Ross at 70th, T.J. Warren at 74th, T.J. Warren Bismack Biyombo at 83rd and Darius Bazley at 100.

Notable former Suns:

  • Cameron Johnson ranks 15th on the list
  • Jae Crowder ranks 61st, behind Craig and Okogie.
  • Dario Saric ranks 80th

Take a look at the Hoopshype list and have some fun imaging the next Suns roster. Targets who might take the Taxpayer MLE probably start around 20th or so.

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