Channing Frye’s decision to leave Phoenix opened the need for the Suns to fill a roster spot. Moreover, it requires them to determine whether they need to find a stretch power forward to replace him.
There’s an argument for the Suns to stick with the status quo. Markieff Morris could slide into the starting spot, and brother Marcus could play as a combo forward and floor-spacer. Phoenix would of course miss Markieff’s ability to attack the opponents’ second units in the post, but the issue remains that Jeff Hornacek’s squad would probably need another rotation player — Marcus will still have his minutes to fill at small forward.
Frye’s $8 million per year he’ll earn with the Orlando Magic was actually an unsurprising amount that ESPN’s Amin Elhassan predicted he’d make in his July 4 average annual value (AAV) piece.
So let’s say the Suns don’t want to ruin cap flexibility for next summer by spending all the money Frye’s departure opens up. They’ll still need to fill the roster with capable free agents unless 50th overall pick Alec Brown shines enough during summer league play to warrant a roster spot.
Here’s a short-list of players that would come with reasonable contracts. And yes, there’s a bit of emphasis on finding the Suns another stretch big man.
Value free agent options
Ed Davis ($5.7 million suggested AAV): Davis’ stock was high as ever when the Memphis Grizzlies acquired him two seasons ago in the Rudy Gay deal. With the Raptors, he had averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13 while acting as a dangerous rim-rolling threat (he’s likewise an excellent defender of rim-rolling bigs). Davis was one of the best pick-and-roll men last season in limited minutes for the Grizzlies, but how he’d fit with the Suns remains to be seen. Perhaps he would be the best fit alongside a second unit where either a Morris twin or Alex Len could provide a bit of spacing. Phoenix would hope it can help the 25-year-old Davis break out (again) and probably wouldn’t sign him unless he comes at a reasonable price.
Jordan Hill: The market price for Hill is probably not far from Davis’, though he’s a little bit older and more well-understood in regards to his potential. A consistent rebounder, especially on the offensive end, Hill has the ability to score on isolations the post. Hill had been developing a mid-range game with the Lakers, so he’s not completely one-dimensional. He’s been linked to Phoenix in the past and would be a safe bet to crack the rotation. Like Davis, signing Hill would probably require a multi-year contract.
Mike Scott: Scott shot only 31 percent from three-point range last season, but he was closer to a 35-percent shooting on pick-and-pop and spot-up situations, according to Synergy Sports. He is a restricted free agent the Atlanta Hawks might match, meaning he could come at a relatively inflated price. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-8 big man would provide the Suns with depth.
Anthony Tolliver: A volume shooter who hit 41 percent from three-point land in Charlotte last season, Tolliver took nearly four treys per game and like Scott played a key role as a backup power forward. Tolliver was one of the NBA’s most effective spot-up shooters and also could have been used more in pick-and-pop situations by the Bobcats. He is not restricted in his free agency and it’s possible the Suns could get him at a reasonable price.
Brian Cook: He’s 33 years old but like Frye has some perspective to his basketball career. Cook is playing in the NBA Summer League after stepping away to take care of his wife, who has been fighting cancer for the last two years. Cook had a number of 40-percent three-point shooting seasons with the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets and Magic. At a vet’s minimum, he very well could thrive with a young Suns squad.
Byron Mullens: He hasn’t had one solid three-point shooting season, though in just 18 games with the Sixers last year shot 40 percent (including a 4-for-7 performance against Phoenix). This was suggested as a joke on a blog comment here at VotS, but if it comes down to the Suns simply needing a body, it could be between a guy like Mullens and one of the best shooters in the world.