A day after finishing their offseason trading spree for assets, the Phoenix Suns checked off another item on their offseason to-do list by picking up the 2014-15 team options on the rookie contracts of Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee.
As I explained earlier in the week, these were pretty easy decisions for the Suns. Markieff will make $2,989,239, Marcus $2,943,221 and Plumlee $1,169,880 in 2014-15.
The Suns now have eight players under contract for 2014-15 for $30.4 million. That gives them plenty of cash to sign Eric Bledsoe to a lucrative extension, pay their potential four first-round picks and have some change left over.
We will have a better sense of their 2014-15 cap number once things are finalized with Bledsoe (or if they aren’t finalized, we’ll have to wait until next offseason for that clarity). The team’s cap holds on their draft picks are difficult to project with so much variability in the number of draft picks they will hold and where they will fall. With an estimated $62.1 million salary cap threshold and all the flexibility those draft picks provide, the Suns likely would have the currency to create max cap space if they so desire. Keeping some of that powder dry and continuing to use cap space to facilitate smart moves as they have done throughout this offseason might be a more likely option.
Plumlee’s pickup was a no-brainer considering how low his salary is for a guy currently pencilled in as the team’s starting center. Even once he settles in as a backup when Alex Len is ready to start, that salary could be a bargain if Plumlee continues to show the improvement he did during the preseason.
The Morris twins may have caused at least a second thought since they will make $6 million together, and it would be hard for the Suns to keep one player’s option and decline the other based on how close the brothers are. With all the cap flexibility the Suns hold, it makes sense to keep them under control for these next two seasons before having to make a decision on whether they belong as longer-term pieces.
The prices are low enough that they could be traded pretty easily, and there is not much of an opportunity cost since it’s unlikely that $6 million of 2014-15 cap space will prevent the Suns from making any moves next offseason considering how flush with space they are. If the twins ever find some consistency, those contracts could end up being a great deal for Phoenix, and if nothing else they provide solid depth at the forward spots.
With Gortat dealt and all the rookie contract decisions made, Ryan McDonough’s key focus the next five days will involve negotiating Eric Bledsoe’s contract extension. The GM told Arizona Sports earlier in the week that the team is “hoping to get something done.” Bledsoe’s value is tough to peg because he’s talented enough to be known as mini-LeBron, yet this year will be his first opportunity to start. He could become a breakout star this campaign or his flaws could be exposed with the additional minutes.
My gut says the Suns finish out their stellar offseason by coming to terms with Bledsoe, and if not they will enter next offseason with the Kentucky product as a coveted restricted free agent.