The Suns’ offseason to-do list:
Dump Shaq for salary relief…check. Sign Nash to an extension…check. Re-sign Grant Hill…check. Sign an active big man (Channing Frye)…check. Explore Amare trade possibilities…check. Buyout Ben Wallace…check. Waive/trade Sasha Pavlovic…to be determined.
As far as personnel goes, the Suns have made all of the moves that they set out to make when the offseason started. The Diesel has been dumped, Nash extended, Hill re-signed, etc. The only player still on the Suns roster that is patiently waiting for an ultimatum is guard/forward Sasha Pavlovic.
The Sporting News has confirmed the popular belief that Pavlovic will indeed leave the Suns, but the situation is a little more complex than meets the eye. Pavlovic’s agent Marc Cornstein told TSN, “This one is a little trickier than most buyout situations. There are two parts to it. First, for us, it’s pursuing a deal. Then, for the Suns, it’s making him a free agent, and the two aspects are tied together.”
It was assumed that the Suns would simply waive Pavlovic when they acquired him in the Shaq trade, as only $1.5 million of his $5 million deal is guaranteed. However, it is now August and the Suns have yet to waive the Serbian swingman. The question is, what is taking the Suns so long to do the inevitable?
Like Cornstein said, it is a complex situation. The Suns believe they can get value for Pavlovic, but also want to give him the opportunity to land in a situation where he can thrive. The Suns are treating Pavlovic as a free agent, allowing him to shop around for potential suitors. Once he and another team express mutual interest, it is believed the Suns will try to get some value out of Pavlovic via a trade or a sign-and-trade.
The Suns do need one more roster player (if Taylor Griffin is not signed), yet there have been no talks of any new free agent interest from the Suns’ end; the reason: the ongoing Pavlovic situation.
Before the Suns go out and sign a veteran big who may not even see the floor, they want to see if they can garner some youth and talent by using the extremely valuable Pavlovic contract. According to Cornstein, three or four NBA teams are seriously interested in Pavlovic. The names of those teams have yet to become known.
It is clear that the Suns could use a center or swingman, but there have been no names mentioned in the Suns’ rumor mill. Although Pavlovic could be waived for straight cash or waived and then signed-and-traded, the holdup on a deal may be a time restriction that many look past.
When a player is traded to a team, he cannot be traded from that team with another player for 60 days. The Shaq trade was completed June 26, making Pavlovic eligible to be part of a multi-player trade on Aug. 26.
This restriction may be the lone holdup for the Suns. I assume the Suns have at least explored moving Pavlovic’s contract with another player like Alando Tucker or maybe even in a bigger deal with Jason Richardson.
Tucker does not appear to be in the Suns’ future plans at this point, and a change of scenery might be best for him and the team. But maybe Pavlovic can be part of a bigger deal involving the seemingly immovable contract of J-Rich.
The Suns have at least tried to look at offers for J-Rich, but quickly found out that as the cap continues to shrink, no one wants to take on a high-dollar, long-term deal like Richardson’s. But maybe a team would be willing to take on a long-term deal if they get instant salary cap relief in Pavlovic as well.
Obviously it is expected that Pavlovic will simply be waived for salary cap space, allowing the Suns to pursue a slightly more expensive free agent than before. But a sign-and-trade or multi-player trade could still happen. Maybe Pavlovic is part of a J-Rich deal the Suns are sitting on until Aug. 26. Maybe Kerr swings Pavlovic and Tucker for a defensive center or big man.
As of now I would expect the Suns to try and get a small piece in return for Pavlovic, but nothing major. However, because the Pavlovic situation has been so hush hush and Aug. 26 is on the horizon, I wouldn’t count out a multi-player trade just yet.