Phoenix Suns free agent Channing Frye has agreed to sign a four-year, $32 million contract with the Orlando Magic after hearing a pitch from general manager Rob Hennigan and coach Jacque Vaughn. The news first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski comes as a major surprise, as Frye was being courted by the Suns as well as other playoff contenders.
Frye was assumed to have interest in joining the Golden State Warriors and former Suns leadership on a playoff-ready team. He also had said that he wanted to remain with Phoenix, his hometown team that helped him to average 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 2013-14 after sitting out the prior year with an enlarged heart.
That Frye will leave Phoenix is a little more shocking considering Golden State became out of the running after it signed guard Shaun Livingston. The Cavaliers, who also were interested in acquiring Frye, could very well be locked up in the LeBron James chase like the Suns — though Phoenix had the financial room to keep Frye and sign James.
It didn’t come as a surprise that Frye would opt out of his final year with the Suns. The stretch power forward turned down $6.8 million to become an unrestricted free agent, and that has seemingly paid off quite well with Frye ready to make an average of $8 million per season to join a young Magic roster that also includes his cousin, Tobias Harris. In Orlando, it appears Frye will be looked upon as a leader for a frontcourt that includes talented center Nikola Vucevic and young combo forwards Harris, Mo Harkless and rookie Aaron Gordon, who like Frye spent his college days at Arizona.
Now the issue is in where Phoenix turns.
The other top stretch big man on the market, Spencer Hawes, agreed upon a four-year, $23 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers this weekend. Charlotte forward Josh McRoberts is ready to become part of the Heat’s pitch to convince James to return to South Beach, and Patrick Patterson has decided to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors.
The list of potential stretch 4s the Suns could add might be irrelevant at this juncture unless we’re including Chris Bosh or LeBron James in this discussion.
It will be most interesting to see how Phoenix can adapt. It’s possible coach Jeff Hornacek toys with the Alex Len and Miles Plumlee duo in the Summer League that tips on Saturday. Additionally, Frye’s decision will open up more time for the Morris twins to play together; Marcus especially could earn more minutes by adding some muscle and backing up his brother if Markieff indeed takes Frye’s starting minutes. And that domino effect could potentially mean rookie T.J. Warren finds more minutes, regardless of whether small forward P.J. Tucker re-signs with Phoenix.