The Phoenix Suns roster continues to take shape as the team prepares to navigate free agency this summer. Some moves have been made, some rumors have been proposed, but until the Suns front office confirms “internal” decisions, nothing is set in stone. We were reminded of this during the Thursday morning press conference that introduced Bradley Beal as a Sun.
"What we do in free agency is an internal matter that we always keep internal. There are plenty of great players that we'll talk to during this period. That's where I'll leave it at." #Suns GM James Jones. https://t.co/K1FLqsf1cu— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 29, 2023
The questions that Suns’ insider Duane Rankin asked were about decisions-to-be-made involving Cameron Payne and Darius Bazley. The Suns tendered offers to their other restricted free agents, Jock Landale and Saban Lee, on Wednesday.
Suspiciously off that list of names was fourth-year forward Darius Bazley. Of the three restricted free agents, Bazley’s qualifying offer was the highest at $6.2 million. While it isn’t uncommon for teams to tender their qualifying offers at different times, it was strange that two of the three were tendered.
Cameron Payne was on a non-guaranteed $6.5 million contract. The Suns had until today to fully guarantee that contract or risk having Payne enter free agency unrestricted.
Shortly after the exchange between James Jones and Duane Rankin, Rankin released the news about the fate of both players. It started with Darius Bazley.
Phoenix Suns didn't extend a qualifying offer to Darius Bazley that would've made Bazley a restricted free agent, souces inform @azcentral .— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) June 29, 2023
Bazley is now an unrestricted free agent. Suns still have bird rights, but lose the ability to match an offer sheet. #Suns
Darius Bazley is a young, athletic, defensive-minded wing. While it is strange to some as to why the Suns did not tender his offer, he is also extremely raw and inexperienced. He played in only 7 games for the Suns, averaging 4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.7 minutes of play. All were in mop up duty.
The Suns traded for Isaiah Todd as a part of the Bradley Beal trade and having Baze and Todd is somewhat duplicitous. I do apologize to the Bazley truthers, those who plugged him into the starting lineup alongside Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton. Your hopes were high. And you might’ve been too.
As for Cameron Payne?
Suns head coach Frank Vogel continually mentioned Payne’s name during the Bradley Beal press conference when asked about his offensive strategy heading into next season. Perhaps this is what sparked the questions from Rankin, but it appeared as the new head coach tipped the Suns’ hand as to what their decision would be.
Bringing Cameron Payne back, especially on a $6.5 million deal, it’s another win for Phoenix. Frank Vogel stated that the team wants to play with pace, and that is something that CP15 has done throughout his time in Phoenix. While Chris Paul sometimes would walk the ball up the court and sputter along like a Honda CRX, Cameron Payne would come out of the gates like a Corvette. And yes, sometimes he would be driving that Corvette like somebody who couldn’t handle the power, swerving all over the
road court and turning the ball over.
Regardless of that fact, the return of Cameron Payne is a positive one, and it remains to be seen if he will assume the starting role with the team or be someone who pushes the pace coming off the bench.
With these two transactions, the Suns roster sits at eight salaried players, with qualifying offers extended to two more.
There are plenty more moves to make and rumors to dispel. Stay tuned to Bright Side of the Sun as free agency 2023 unfolds.