Notes: Caron Butler trade is official, Suns ink Alex Len

In the dead of August, the Phoenix Suns are still making roster shuffles. This sure isn’t their last before the 2013-14 season tips off.

The trade sending Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks for Slava Kravtsov and Ish Smith went official on Thursday, and general manager Ryan McDonough’s statement in the team’s press release alluded to more changes upcoming.

“We would like to thank Caron for his professionalism and wish him the best with the Milwaukee Bucks,” McDonough said. “This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe. It also provides us with two young players in our efforts to build a team capable of sustainable success.”

Critics could point toward the Butler trade as a bad one for a Phoenix team that needed some sort of leadership, but that role arguably lies squarely on the shoulders of first-year coach Jeff Hornacek. And as Grantland’s Zach Lowe points out, it’s simply a sign of the times. The Suns got the best deal they could for a fading ex-All-Star.

Even in rebuilding mode, Phoenix would take on a salary savings of more than $5.5 million dollars this season — Smith and Kravtsov are making $1.5 million and $951,463, respectively — if only to save that money for a Michael Beasley waiving, which could perhaps go down next week. The Suns will pay Beasley another $6 million this season if they hold off on waiving him until Sept. 1 but then could pay the forward the remaining $3 million guaranteed in thin amounts over the next several seasons.

But what is to make of the overweight roster? At this point, it seems like the Suns have a plan.

The roster sits at 17 players after the trade, and that’s even when last year’s third-string point guard, Diante Garrett, announced he’d be playing for a roster spot in Oklahoma City next season.


Garrett departure still means there are six point guards on the Suns. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Kendall Marshall should each see playing time, and that might be asking for too much with Archie Goodwin also a possibility. Malcolm Lee, taken in the trade for the Suns to nab Goodwin 29th instead of 30th, is coming off a knee injury but expected to join the team. And now add third-year guard Smith to the equation — he’s played 121 games for five teams in six NBA stints.

By the numbers, having the six point guards simply means there will be more playing time for the younger players elsewhere.

Suns finally ink Alex Len to paper

The signing of fifth overall pick Alex Len bumped the Suns’ official roster up to 17 players on Thursday.

Earlier this week, ESPN Los Angeles spoke to general managers and NBA scouts anonymously about the Pacific Division, including the Suns, and some had better things to say about McDonough draft pick than did those outside the league.

“Alex Len, finding a starting center is a challenging thing to do, and I think Alex has that potential.”

Phoenix’s silence in respect to Beasley likely means they’re only waiting to waive the troubled forward. After that, the Suns trading away more players away than they will receive before the season would shore up the roster limit problem. And that’s assuming Channing Frye will be able to return after missing last season with a heart condition.

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