Last offseason the Phoenix Suns’ front office was criticized for lacking a plan when Amare Stoudemire left, instead throwing money at role players for the sake of spending.
No such charges can be levied against the Suns’ front office this offseason as all moves have been made with one goal in mind: maintaining 2012 cap space.
That’s why the Suns plan to sign Shannon Brown and Sebastian Telfair to one-year deals on Friday, and it’s why they have offered Grant Hill a one-year deal for $5.5 million but are hesitant to go to two. Brown will make $3.5 mil for his year of service and Telfair $1.5 mil, although Paul Coro reports he also has a partial guarantee for the following campaign.
This part of the plan makes sense. Even if the Suns don’t have a chance at the Big Three free agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams — and I don’t think they do — cap space under the new CBA is still so valuable.
The fear is the Suns spend just to spend and once again waste it all on role players like they did last year, but aside from the shot at landing elite talent it opens up opportunities to post a winning bid for a talented amnesty player or perhaps take on a crummy contract in return for a king’s ransom in draft picks (a la the Kurt Thomas trade, just in reverse). Cap space, if employed correctly, is one of the best ways the Suns can rebuild.
Therefore, it should be considered holy and as much as everyone in this city would like to see Grant Hill back, they just can’t afford to up their offer in years.
However, today’s deals effectively end the Suns’ offseason pending Hill’s decision and any potential minimum additions. Our ValleyoftheSuns writers in today’s 3-on-3 were unanimous concerning the Suns’ need for a go-to scorer but as I figured it just wasn’t going to happen when the best you can offer is one year and $5 million and you lack trade assets.
Now we know for sure that the closest thing the Suns will get to acquiring a go-to scorer this offseason is Shannon Brown, which is to say they aren’t acquiring one.
That should not be seen as a criticism of the signing. I was going to be at least moderately pleased with any deal that starts out with the words “one year,” and to grab Brown for $3.5 million is solid value. He will provide energy and excitement and his game fits the Suns’ style. He is no go-to player, but he is a savvy pickup.
Same goes with Telfair. Not much risk when you sign for less than two million dollars, and the Suns were not going to find anyone too much better for the salary they had to offer.
But now that we know what the Suns will look like this season I wonder why they don’t decide to start the rebuilding process a year early. Sure, this team can be fun and exciting and if things break right they very well might be a playoff team or at least push for a berth. It would be fun to watch Nash lead such an unheralded squad to an underdog playoff berth, but why play for a No. 7 or 8 seed at best in the loaded West when rebuilding is right around the corner?
The Suns’ brutal January schedule could crystallize the scenario. Do you see more than one or two wins the second half of the month? If the Suns fall behind big by February, the team could reverse course on a Nash trade and prepare for the 2012 rebuild early.
I like the moves the Suns made today. They needed wing scoring and a backup point guard, and they acquired both at a cost that will not affect their future. It also eliminates any need for Aaron Brooks this season and should put his rights firmly on the trading block when he returns to the country.
But, assuming the Suns don’t have a blockbuster up their sleeve that nobody sees, this squad is no better than a low-tier West playoff team.
Today’s moves show how serious the Suns are about waiting until 2012 to make their move. So long as that’s the case, why not just go all in for 2012 by initiating the rebuilding process now?