Phoenix Suns salary situation murky before lockout

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.

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