As expected, the Phoenix Suns haven’t made a huge push to sign any big-name free agents.
In fact, they’ve hardly been mentioned in any rumors with substance. Perhaps the biggest possibility floated from a legitimate source — and a loose rumor at that — came from CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, who reported the Suns expressed interest in Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis after the negotiation period began.
The possibility of the Suns going hard after Ellis seems far-fetched considering his expectation of a max contract despite his limitations from both a court-impact perspective as well as a marketing one. As we’ve discussed and expected, the Suns don’t appear willing to doll out a max contract with anyone in this free agent class.
But in the name of giving the fans a somewhat competitive roster next season, Phoenix will surely look for some perimeter help after drafting Alex Len and 18-year-old rookie Archie Goodwin. Len is a project who could sit behind Marcin Gortat at center, and Goodwin could potentially need more time before being thrown to the wolves.
Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley will be back, but it’s unclear if Phoenix will look to move either or both to better situations.
Two names who have been connected to the Suns are New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger.
New York Daily News Knicks beat writer Al Iannazzone reported the Suns had interest in Smith before the free agency period, and the New York Post later reported the same. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Suns to sign Smith, who likely wouldn’t want to join a lottery-bound squad unless the price was right. And it’s unlikely Ryan McDonough and company would be willing to overpay for a player who was drawing more attention during the playoffs for being called out by Rihanna than making an impact on the court.
Budinger could be a better value. The former Arizona swingman is a fine catch-and-shoot jumper, especially from midrange, but shoots just 32 percent from three-point range. The Racine Journal-Times’ Gery Woelfel reported Phoenix is one of several teams to have been “courting” Budinger.
The most ridiculous rumor so far came from a Huffington Post sports columnist, who began a Marcin Gortat trade rumor involving the Spurs. A trade was supposedly in the “seriously negotiating” phase before the Spurs suddenly “cooled” on the idea because San Antonio remembered that Greg Oden existed.
That rumor is pretty much a solid summary of what the Suns will do this offseason. Even if they make noise, it’s possible nothing ever comes of it.
Unless there’s a trade package thrown Phoenix’s way that allows them to clear cap space, gives them future picks and helps them acquire a young talent — a combination of two of those three things would be appealing — the Suns aren’t doing anything drastic.
Even if Phoenix goes with a perimeter scorer, it could be a few days before the first dominoes start falling. Tyreke Evans has already set the bar pretty darn high by being offered a four-year, $44 million contract by the New Orleans Pelicans. So until his situation is resolved, the lower-tier swingman are in limbo.
And when they’re finally out of it, the Suns might be smart to take their fingers off the triggers.