The trade deadline is looming and, with it being less than a month away, the question is how active on the market will the Phoenix Suns be. In previous seasons, before the arrival of owner Mat Ishbia, James Jones stood fast. For the most part. Unless Torrey Craig‘s name was available, we didn’t see much movement with the roster. James Jones was an “I like what we have, and let’s wait-and-see” type of general manager.
When Ishbia took the reins last February, however, that philosophy quickly pivoted. Kevin Durant was acquired, and this past off-season saw the majority of the roster flipped.
Here we are on the other side of that adjustment, and the question remains” What, if anything, are the Phoenix Suns looking for?
In a recent poll conducted by Bright Side of the Sun, it was the point guard position that we believed needed to be addressed the most. More specifically, the backup point guard position, seeing as no true facilitator is coming off the bench for Phoenix at this time.
So that is what James Jones will be looking for, right?
Recent reports remind us that James Jones simply thinks differently than we do as it pertains to the construction of the roster.
An “athletic wing” is what Chris B. Haynes reports that the Suns need this trade deadline and it is what they will be pursuing.
I guess it begs the question: don’t we have enough athletic wings?
In a league in which you never can truly have too many of that archetype, those who currently reside on the roster aren’t providing the desired production. Even though they are veteran minimum players, players like Keita Bates-Diop, Nassir Little, Yuta Watanabe, and Chimezie Metu aren’t doing well enough it appears, at least in the eyes of their general manager.
Phoenix will be pursuing an athletic wing, and the real question is how will they obtain that player? A reminder from Dave King:
Cap Sheet and what can the Suns DO in TRADE!!!
Minor update on the cap sheet. The Suns have signed Theo Maledon to fill their third two-way contract slot. Maledon is a still-young point guard but really should not be counted on as a savior for the Suns. They really need a much more proven table-setter to help close out fourth quarters by getting the ball to guys who can finish.
The Suns really need two things:
- Upgrade on the Okogie / Bates-Diop / Watanabe / Little / Metu brand of small power forward who can defend multiple wing sizes and add secondary rim protection on one end, while on the other, both TAKE and MAKE make open threes without hesitation. The Suns hoped one of these guys would deliver all of that consistently but we haven’t seen it yet.
- Upgrade on 4th ball handler who can initiate offense in any 5-man lineup, from driving and hitting HoFers on catch-and-shoot, or pairing with one or none of them at a time while the others are resting/out. The Suns had hopes that there would be one or more of Gordon / Allen / Goodwin.
If the Suns get healthy at the top and upgrade those slots I really like the chances in the playoffs.
Here’s the latest. As of today (and since Dec 15), everyone can be traded. The only complication is that Bradley Beal still holds his ‘no-trade clause’ which allows him to choose his next team.
The Suns, as a second-apron team, have some trade limitations, but can still do some interesting things between now and the end of the trade deadline in February 2024 anyway.
- CAN aggregate salaries this year, in both directions
- CANNOT take on more than 10% more salary coming back in a trade of players
- CAN sign a guy who was bought out, but only if he made less than #12.4 million
- CAN use a trade exception to acquire a player from another team into a roster spot, but canNOT be included with outgoing players. Has to be used by itself to acquire someone else’s player into the salary spot
- Dario Saric trade exception = $4.975 million, usable through 2/9/2024
- Cameron Payne trade exception = $6.5 million, usable through 9/7/2024
- There are also small Isaiah Todd and Toumani Camara ones, but they are under $2 mil each
Contracts in black ink are guaranteed, meaning the Suns have to pay those salaries whether or not the player is on the team, like Keon Johnson. He’s fully charged to the Suns since he only signed a two-way with Brooklyn.
*Note: Spotrac.com has the Suns still $4.869 million over the second apron. I got most of the way there realizing Goodwin’s non-guaranteed portion counts against this number, but still looking for the other 800k.
Team owner Ishbia has said over and over again he doesn’t care about the cost, but roster management gets more and more difficult if they stay over. Keep reading...
What does the ‘second tax apron’ mean to the Suns, starting next offseason?
If they are still over when the 2023-24 regular season ends:
- cannot pay more than the 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
- One-for-one player trades trades only (no salary aggregation of multiple players)
- every trade must return the same or less player salary back to the Suns
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 they keep 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, especially after this season ends. That’s they these biggest spenders are accumulating the biggest salaries they can right now so they can at least start from the top on the trade.
The trade deadline is February 8. Who the Suns pursue and how the make the money work will be the primary focus over the next month. That, and winning games.