Apr 12, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 101-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Channing Frye becomes free agent, leaves $6.8 million on table


Channing Frye has indeed decided to opt out of his contract, Paul Coro and Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed on Monday. The 6-foot-11 forward’s decision leaves $6.8 million on the table in the final year of what was a five-year, $30 million deal with a player option.

Again, this doesn’t mean the Suns and Frye are done with their partnership. As a free agent, Frye reportedly could field offers from teams in Cleveland and Golden State, not ironically teams led by former Suns front office members, but Frye made it clear at the end of the year that he’s happy playing in his hometown. The Suns have publicly held the stance they will work on a contract extension.

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan projects him to make $7.4 million annually, but will the Suns be comfortable with Frye receiving a contract significantly larger than his current deal?

People see Frye as a one-trick pony, a defensive liability and a sub-par rebounder. But we write it on this blog every single year – and sometimes multiple times a year. The guy’s seemingly over-valuation is not set by accident, as he’s an elite player in a very unique role.

Shaq wasn’t asked to bring the ball up the court because that’s not his value. Steve Nash wasn’t asked to grab 10 boards per game, because he’s a passer. Likewise, Frye isn’t asked to dominate the boards — he’s also not as bad of a defender as people make him out to be.

Frye makes the Suns’ pick-and-roll game go, scoring the league’s 17th-best mark of 1.18 points per possession on such plays according to Synergy Sports. Frye shot 48 percent on pick-and-rolls and 46 percent in those situations on three-point attempts. Even when he was missing, he was opening the middle of the court for Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to drive.

All that said, it’s not wrong to wonder if the Suns should hand him what he’s worth considering age and with Markieff Morris having taken a major step forward in 2013-14. Moving on with Morris is a very valid argument to make. And because that directly affects the Suns’ two best players (as of now), losing Frye comes with a lot of question-marks that have nothing to do with how well Morris — or anyone else — succeeds in his place.

  • WLX(AL)

    I’d like Frye to be back. He’s a good fit for the team’s style of play. He is a streaky shooter, but keeps the opposing defenses spread wide allowing Goran and Bled to penetrate. I see Frye as a Specialist type player like Tony Allen. Tony is a Defense Specialist that got 20mill/4yrs @ age 31. So, paying 31 year old Frye (3-point shooting big) the same amount as Allen is a good deal for both sides.

  • DBreezy

    All of that stuff is great, but it has a flip side. The Suns have had only two winning seasons and one playoff season with Channing playing a major role in his time here. That’s not to say that Channing is the reason they missed the postseason, but to put the value of those stats and projections in perspective when it comes to $$$. Just like all of that analysis that said R.Lo was a more effective s/r player than Amar’e a few years ago. Channing has value for sure, but it’s not in his current role load wise.

    • coachj

      Agreed.

      Another way to look at this is what role he fills and how much we need him specifically to fill it [and at what price]. If Frye were a guy that was one of the final cogs in a well-oiled machine [like the Nash-prime led Suns] – because his floor spreading, 3pt shooting value far surpassed his liabilities due to the rest of the team making up for it – then you pay him.

      However, currently they do not have the pieces up front to make up for Frye’s lack of defense and rebounding.His floor spacing is helpful, but not when you factor in Kieff. The Suns now have a suitable replacement that can actually do more on both ends of the floor than Frye. Losing Frye won’t be as detrimental to them, and actually may benefit them cap-wise. I think losing Tucker right now would be a much bigger loss.

      I think it is time to move on from Frye. If he were willing to take a Spurs-like 3 Yr – $9M total deal, then keep him. Otherwise you are throwing$ 3-8 M a year extra to a guy that eventually will be completely replaced either by Morris or another whom we trade/draft/sign. No sense committing to him. He can command a 3 year mid-level or more deal, he should take it. Suns should use some of that money to keep Tucker around 3-4 more years, and add to what you need to pay Dragic next year.

      • DBreezy

        While I feel Kieff is more versatile than Frye, I don’t believe he replaces what Frye does best. Both players can make 3′s, but one shoots the shot considerably better and with volume and most importantly causes defenses to respect him.

        • coachj

          I think it is a matter of perception.[ While Frye does shoot it better, the percentage is not as large as you would think.]

          But what I mean is that the coaching staff’s and fans have all bought into this idea that Frye is a 3pt shooter and that is all he does or should do. So it is expected that when he is open, he better shoot it and if he puts it on the floor or goes into the post, everyone yells at him. Therefore, he has the green light to be unconscious about shooting 3′s, which makes for confidence.

          With Kieff, nobody has or wants him to be that. While he can shoot it, he is being told to be our classic PF, get into the block and to stop relying on 3′s. Therefore, you see him hesitate and pass up some 3 point shot opportunities, thus making him shoot it with less confidence and making less.

          The reality is, Kieff is only about 2% points behind Frye in long 2′s [16-24 feet] and if the coaching staff allowed him minutes and the green light to launch away, he may gain the confidence to up his 3 point percentage to do what Frye does, and that will only take half a season before the league starts worrying about him out there.

          I am not concerned about losing Frye. I want us to move toward playoffs and contending, and Frye will never be part of that plan, as by the time we are in that position, he will retire.

          • DBreezy

            While I personally think Frye has a better shot than Kieff, especially when you consider volume that wasn’t really what I was getting at. Defenses are willing to give Kieff those long 2′s and 3′s while they’re not willing to do so with Frye. This opens things up for Goran and Bled more often even if Frye is going through one of his notorious cold streaks. Goran ran into more help D when Scola and Kieff were on the s/r as the D sagged and gave the those mid range 2′s. It’s the same reason Grant Hill often stepped in from the 3pt line late after the play was going for his mid range jumpers. I’m not overly concerned about losing Frye, but I do think it will cause changes to the offense. That’s something for McD to think about when he’s talking about 55-60 W’s in a conference that continues to get tougher. It’s also something to think about when valuing players in the draft or on the roster already.

          • coachj

            I don’t necessarily disagree with that. However, I think it is time to move on from the old regime, and at the same time we need to evaluate Morris in a larger role as he is coming up on his QO and we are going to need to make a definitive decision with him after this season. I think a Frye departure puts more pressure on him and the Suns to step up and play a larger role, including that of a stretch 4. If he can’t handle it, then we know where we go with him [trade or sign him to a reasonable deal as a long-term backup at the 4]. The problem we have had is that we haven’t had the opportunity to put in in and leave him there. We have had tantalizing moments and we have played him big minutes at end of games, but we [and he] always have had the Frye safety net. It is time to move on and put Kieff in the starting lineup and see what he can bring to the table. I am not sure how that plays out, but signing a 31 year old long term seems counter productive.

          • DBreezy

            It’s long been interesting to me that there hadn’t been a ton of interest in Kieff starting from 3 different coaches with no real explanation as to why. Perhaps we’ll see it happen now as right now the Suns seem only guaranteed to be in the top 11 in the west as of this minute.