Gentlemen, start your engines!

Up until now, teams could only talk.

With the league-wide moratorium on free agent signings and trades being lifted today, now teams can take action.

Unfortunately for Phoenix fans, this past week has been awfully quiet on Suns news, aside from a report on Kerr talking with Grant Hill here and contact with free agent big men there.

Two weeks ago on draft day, we all thought this was the day that Amare Stoudemire would officially become an ex-Sun. We have since barely heard a peep about that deal, but as I wrote after Don Nelson proclaimed his love for Steph Curry, neither side had anything to gain by doing anything else but playing a strong hand of poker.

Nothing could happen until today, so why tip your hand?

In the coming days and possibly weeks we will find out if Don Nelson was bluffing about his refusal to include Curry in any Amare deal. Hopefully, we will also find out that Kerr won’t deal Amare for 60 cents on the dollar, but I’ve been fearing that proposition since February.

Today will also be the first day that Grant Hill can become a Sun again, or possibly an ex-Sun. An NBA source told the Republic that New York is offering him a one-year deal at $5 mil or a three-year deal at $10 mil, both of which figure to be higher than what Phoenix is offering.

Boston could offer the biennial exception of two years at $3.9 mil that Hill accepted two years ago from the Suns, and Denver has also shown interest.

Knowing that Boston offers a chance to win and likely similar money, and New York offers the same starting role and more money, I would not be surprised at all if Hill doesn’t return to Phoenix.

Paul Coro also reported that Matt Barnes isn’t drawing much interest from the Suns, which is not a surprise with Jared Dudley and Earl Clark at that position and the possibility of adding a Hill or Shawn Marion in free agency.

Although Barnes told Ced Ceballos in a postgame player interview after the final game of the season that he had already started thinking about playing for a contender in Phoenix next season, that interest has not been reciprocated all summer long. I can’t blame the Suns since he will likely want a raise from the league minimum, which isn’t doable for a cash-strapped Phoenix team that has capable replacements.

As much as Barnes doesn’t want to be known as a streaky player, that’s just what he is, and unless things go wrong for both parties this offseason, he won’t be back.

In other major league news, we also learned that the cap will be set at $57.7 million this season, about $1 mil less than last season. That means a midlevel exception for a guy like Matrix would start at a shade over $5.85 million.

The luxury tax threshold dropped to $69.92 million from $71.2 mil last year, when the Suns owed $4,918,136 in taxes, the lowest of the seven taxed teams.

Here’s the bad news for Suns fans. Phoenix will be a bit above the luxury tax at right around $71.75 mil once they waive Pavlovic and pick up Nash’s option, according to Hoopshype figures. For those math geniuses out there, that means they’re already about $2 mil over the luxury cap not counting rookie contracts for Clark ($1.7 mil slot) and Griffin.

Signing Marion for the full MLE would actually be about an $11.7 million commitment, and I’ve got some beachfront property in Scottsdale to sell you if you think Sarver will jump at that.

No wonder this team is looking at signing a big guy, hopefully Channing Frye, for the minimum.

The only good news in all that is a Chandler-Wallace deal would save a few bucks in the interim because Tyson makes $2.2 mil less than Big Ben. Of course if Wallace retires, maybe that frees up some money to use with the MLE even if it means no Chandler.

ESPN also reported the potentially damning news that the cap could drop between $50.4 mil to $53.6 mil next season.

Yes, you just heard every team hoarding cap space and every free agent hoping to cash in on that cap space shuddering. That would mean the Knicks could only sign one marquee player and that the well would dry up a whole lot quicker than everybody expected.

The Suns have $41 mil in commitments next year if Amare were to pick up his option or they started him out at that salary in a long-term deal, and that’s not counting things like rookie contracts or any multi-year signings this offseason. That means they could barely be a player.

However, if the Suns don’t make any long-term commitments and get some flexibility in an Amare deal, they might be able to make a bit of a dent, especially with other teams being in a comparatively worse position than what they originally thought.

Still, I would say such a Doomsday scenario should be enough for Sarver to put all his chips in the table, not worry about the fabled Summer of 2010 and go out and get a Marion and Chandler while he can.

Then again, I’m not the one footing that darn luxury bill.

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