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.