Although the J-Rich deal was most important to import a dynamic scoring threat at the shooting guard spot, Suns general manager Steve Kerr has also discussed it as a good deal because now the Suns aren’t paying big money to any bit pieces.
Kerr said he’s more comfortable paying J-Rich $12.2, $13.3 and $14.4 million than $9 million for a year longer contract to Diaw, who was only playing 24.5 minutes per contest and was limited while on the floor because of the space Shaq and Amare take up.
Now essentially the Suns have no bad long-term contracts (see chart below) since Leandro Barbosa’s $6-7 million per year deal is fair value for a sixth man as valuable as the Blur.
Sure, you can say Shaq doesn’t deserve the $20 million he’ll be getting this year and next year, but at least the Big Diesel is playing a starring role on this team. Plus, Shaq’s $20 million Expiring Contract could become very valuable if the Suns choose to rebuild next season and otherwise provides the Suns loads of cap space when it expires before the summer of 2010.
In other words, the short-term nature of Shaq’s deal (even if he’s not worth that much) makes it palatable for the Suns’ long-term plans.
Besides Shaq, I’d say everybody on the Suns is making about what they deserve or less, with Amare at $15 million, Nash $12.25 mil, J-Rich $12.2, Barbosa $6.1 and the rest of the team including Grant Hill and Matt Barnes making under $2 million.
How many NBA teams boast that many players earning what they should be making?
J-Rich and LB will be making a combined $21 million in 2010-11, and if Amare opts out the Suns would have just $23.5 million in committed money entering that offseason with Goran Dragic’s guaranteed deal and Robin Lopez, Jared Dudley and Alando Tucker if the team picks up their options.
That means the Suns would be roughly $34.5 million under the cap if Amare opts out, and still about $17 mil under even if Amare chooses to stay, which would be enough to make at least some kind of a splash for a sidekick for Amare and J-Rich.
It is ridiculous to be thinking about a summer a year and a half away (not that it’s stopping Knicks fans from doing so) because we’ll have a much better picture this offseason when we know if the Suns offer and Amare signs a long-term extension.
If he does, 2010 in Phoenix will be about reloading and fashioning a team around Amare, J-Rich and a free agent, with Nash possibly sticking around at a bit of a pay cut that could be doubtful with the money teams will have to throw around.
Or it could be about completely blowing this thing up and starting over with a 2010 free agent and/or Amare trade haul.
With Diaw off the books, at least the Suns know they’ll have some attractive options to reload around when the Nash Era ends.
Compiled by HoopsHype