Phoenix Suns salary situation murky before lockout

Posted by on May 7th, 12:22 pm

It’s impossible to project the kind of financial flexibility the Phoenix Suns will possess this offseason and beyond before the new collective bargaining agreement is set.

So many options could potentially be on the table from rolled back salaries to an amnesty clause to a hard cap to the end of cap exceptions, all of which would drastically change how teams are built.

Until we know the rules, it’s tough to say how the Suns should best follow them.

What we do know is that the Suns will be hard-pressed to find cap space for a free agent this summer but they should have flexibility next summer barring any future deals for long-term contracts.

Considering the foregone conclusion that the Suns will cut Vince Carter and only pay him the guaranteed $4 million of his $18.3 million non-guaranteed salary, the Suns will be at $45.2 million in commitments not counting what the Suns may have to pay Mickael Pietrus, who has a $5.3 million player option, or Aaron Brooks, who is a restricted free agent.

Factor in another $2 million for the lottery pick, another $3 million or so for Grant Hill’s likely return and the strong possibility that at least one of Pietrus/Brooks will be back and the Suns won’t have much money to throw at potential free agents, especially since it’s likely that the cap will be lower than the $58 million figure it was at this season.

A trade of some sorts is still possible, but it appears the Suns’ best shot at making a free agency splash will come during the summer of 2012 when they only have $28 million in commitments to the quintet of Gortat-Frye-Dudley-Childress-Warrick.

At least the first three (and likely Childress as well out of necessity) appear primed to be part of the next era of Suns basketball, and perhaps the Suns could add to that core with a Nash trade, the lottery pick and a shrewd free agency signing to put them in position to be a player in 2012.

Once the new CBA becomes official we will have a much clearer picture of the Suns’ offseason possibilities this year and beyond, but for now you can consult the ValleyoftheSuns salary page to make your own projections on how Lon Babby should rebuild this franchise.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Future · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lloyd I. Cadle // May 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I have been a big proponent of the Suns starting the rebuilding process ASAP.

    However, with the sudden disarray of the Lakers (with Kobe getting even older and the soft play of Gasol), maybe the Suns can make some moves to contend for first place next season.

    The Lakers figure to be worse next season with a new coach and old man Kobe trying to learn a new system.

    In watching Dirk in the playoffs, it goes to show how rare it is to have a seven footer that can shoot from all over the court. Frye can potentially be that for the Suns. (He is already a very good defender.)

    Basketball is still a big mans game. I am heartened by the fact that the Suns have two very good young big men to build around in Frye and Gortat.

    That is a good start.

  • 2 Abhijit Bordia // May 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    My question is to Michael Schwartz:
    Great article but no matter what the cap limit would be, the Suns have to be over the cap to be successful. Every good team has an average 3 player over 10 million salary, the Suns have 1 and that’s not gonna cut it(talent wise, you can check the records). Everyone knows that we are not getting Paul or Howard. We have to make a move now, I don’t know if I make sense or not. We have to spend this year to fulfill our needs. There are no PF or Guards available in 2012.
    I love Nene, West, Humphris, landry, Milsap(trade option) Redd, J. R smith.
    I don’t want Crawford even near Arizona, he is worst defender in this league.
    What do you think Micheal?

  • 3 Steve // May 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I know I’m not Michael, but if you want to pay any of those guys over $10M, you’re crazy. The only guy in that group I’d give that kind of money to is West, and he just blew out his knee, so who knows?

  • 4 Abhijit Bordia // May 8, 2011 at 7:42 am

    S teve: Which players are we going to bring in 2012. there are no players that fulfill our needs. No PF or guards. I am not buying on Paul or Howard to come here.

  • 5 AJ // May 8, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @Abhijit: I tend to agree with you, but if there is a hard cap then teams wont be allowed to spend more than the cap.

    In which I guess the league could be come more competitive and it would spell the end of any team putting stars together like Miami did.

  • 6 Steve // May 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I don’t like building through FA. There is so much uncertainty through it all, and most teams end up losing. A lot of times, there is a reason when a team or player doesn’t extend (the players think they are more valuable than they truly are).

    FA prospects aren’t all that great over the next couple of years, but when are they ever great for a team like the Suns? We might have a shot at landing one star, but that’s probably not even true. As desirable as some of us fans might think the Valley is, the biggest names aren’t going to come here on their own. Most of our significant players have come through the draft or trade, not FA.

    So, if you were to ask me, don’t offer a FA a $10M+ contract unless it is Kevin Love, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and maybe Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook (not completely sold on either of these guys, but they each have tremendously high ceilings).

  • 7 Lloyd I. Cadle // May 9, 2011 at 7:37 am

    The NBA owners will be pushing for an NFL type “franchise tag” which will prevent players like Howard from moving, but they will still get their big money.

    I hope that happens.

  • 8 Steve // May 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    The NFL’s franchise tag doesn’t make people untouchable, necessarily. There are two ways it works.

    1. The exclusive guys have to be paid either 120% of their salary from the previous season or the average salary of the top 5 players at their position, whichever is greater.

    2. The non-exclusive guys are protected similarly to restricted free agents in the NBA. Other teams can make offers, but that player’s team has an opportunity to match. If they don’t match, the team that receives the franchised player must forfeit two first-round draft picks to the team that lost the franchise player.

    In either case, franchise tags are one-year deals, and the player being “franchised” can reject the tag.

    I’m not saying the NBA’s system has to be identical, but in no way does an NFL-style franchise tag make it impossible for a star to leave his team. I think the owners will find it impossible to prevent the stars from doing what they want. The players are not going to be happy with a deal that makes them prisoners to a team, essentially. The player is always going to have the final say, in the end, on whether or not he’ll sign a contract.

  • 9 Michael Schwartz // May 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I like the guys you suggest, Abhijit, but it all depends on the CBA. If there is a hard cap you must be incredibly judicious when doling out big bucks. Michael Redd would be nice on a one year deal with incentives as he tries to rebuild his value. Obviously West (even hurt), Nene and Millsap (by trade) would be great but at what cost? The Suns need more than one of those guys to contend again though even with the downfall of the Lakers, which is why I more or less favor rebuilding.

  • 10 pablo // May 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    so the article didn’t mention Robin Lopez in the long-term plans? as a Spurs fan i would be interested in a solid 7′ who can do a little bit of everything. since you have Gortat and Frye, what would it take to pry Lopez away?

  • 11 Michael Schwartz // May 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    He sure didn’t play like a solid 7 footer who can do a bit of everything as the Suns thought he was a year ago. I fear the Suns will trade him when his value is the lowest. Hard to say what it would take for a team like the Spurs to acquire him, but it’s fair to say he’s available for the right offer.

  • 12 Steve // May 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    For the Spurs, 3 future unprotected first rounders and DeJuan Blair.

    For anyone else, maybe a second rounder? He’s pretty much worthless at the moment, which is precisely why I don’t want to get rid of him quite yet.

  • 13 Ryan Fruest // Jun 25, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I just wanna make a little speech here because I’ve been doing some research recently, and looking up player salaries, and how much the suns have to spend on free agents this summer and it turns out they actually have NOTHING to spend right now. Yeah I know Sarver has been historically cheap but you can’t blame him now because he could spend more on the team if he wanted to because of this new $58 mil salary cap. When playoff elimination finally caught up with the Suns’ losing results in San Antonio in April, Marcin Gortat said the team had no toughness and intensity. Steve Nash has been intimating that the team was “not tough enough” for years on occasion. According to my calculations they HAD about 4 mil until they drafted Morris and now they just gave two of that to him so that leaves two. Who can they buy with 2? I’ll tell you who, a player that’s even worse than Josh Childress or any other crummy player the suns now have. A player that will make Josh Childress or Warrick look like Michael Jordan or Robin Lopez look like Wilt the Stilt. Robin Lopez, by the way, all the he does suck and is slightly injured, is not being paid all that much so the Suns are saving a lot of money with him. Most centers that are better than him get paid 3-4 times as much and that’s not in the budget right now. Maybe next year. Nene makes like 11 million a year. That’s why he always dominates Lopez – because he’s supposed to. He gets paid like 7 times as much to play. I would love it if the Suns could afford him. I would also love it if Santa Claus came down the chimney this Christmas and left me an assortment of expensive presents. Don’t yell at Sarver. There’s nothing he can do. They have reached their spending limit. Period.
    Whether anyone likes it or not, the Suns are gonna be stuck with their current roster. At least, that’s the best that they’re going to get. I don’t have enough faith in their office to make a smart trade decision, and feel that if they trade away Warrick Lopez and Childress they will end up with a player that’s so bad that we will miss them. I do hope that they trade Nash before he leaves us high and dry and goes to his old Dallas team next year to win a Championship with his old friend Dirk, leaving the Suns with nothing but a fistful of dust, but other than Gortat, who the Suns should keep and rebuild their new team around, no one else on the team is worth anything to any other team and no other team will give the Suns any good players in exchange for crummy Suns players.
    Don’t get me wrong, the Suns haves a lot of talent – they just don’t seem to really want to win or care one way or another. They get paid either way. Josh Childress gets paid 6 mil a year to sit on the bench and when he does get playing time I think he sucks on purpose so that he can sit back down again because he’s lazy and the guaranteed 24 mil he’s made is enough to retire on. Duddly will probably adopt the same attitude now that he’s got a nice contract. These players work hard until they get a contract and then they slack off. I think that if the Suns actually worked hard and hustled (which they certainly do not consistently home or on the road) they would be a formidable force) but they don’t so they suck. And they will also suck this year.
    The only good news we have as Suns fans as that we will be getting some great draft picks in the next few years, and when the contracts run out on some of these bums in the next 2-3 years they will definitely be cut loose and thrown overboard for being flotsam and jetsam, finally freeing up enough money to buy some players with a winning attitude.

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