Feb 11, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) against Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns' salary cap situation as NBA free agency opens

When the clock struck 9 p.m. MST on Wednesday night, the 2014 NBA free agency moratorium ended, and teams will be able to officially ink players to new contracts. Earlier in the day, the league announced its new salary figures with a $63.065 million salary cap (a 7.5 percent increase from 2013-14) and a $76.829 million luxury tax threshold.

The biggest prize, LeBron James, met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday afternoon, and according to USA Today’s Sam Amick won’t meet with any more suitors even though he hasn’t given Miami a promise to return.

Of course, the Phoenix Suns would have loved to meet with James, and they’d hoped a pitch to James’ agent, Rich Paul, combined with their roster and financial outlook would be enticing enough. Suns owner Robert Sarver has said he believed James would consider Phoenix because he understands it from the basketball business perspective, and James will end up having to come to that conclusion himself.

So what does Phoenix do with James coming to the Valley unlikely and other options — Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons — seemingly off the board?

Suns fans probably hope the answer lies somewhere between how Pacman Jones and Lance Stephenson operate at the club.

PLAYER CAP HIT
Goran Dragic $7,500,000
Michael Beasley $777,777
Gerald Green $3,500,000
Alex Len $3,649,920
Markieff Morris $2,989,239
Marcus Morris $2,943,221
Miles Plumlee $1,169,880
Archie Goodwin $1,112,280
Eric Bledsoe* $6,566,183
T.J. Warren $1,627,600
Tyler Ennis $1,325,600
P.J. Tucker* $1,148,163
Ish Smith $992,435
Dionte Christmas $816,482
CAP: $63,065,000 SUNS SALARIES/HOLDS: $36,118,780 SUNS CAP SPACE: $28,247,801
LeBron James MAX CONTRACT: $20,644,400
 SALARIES WITH JAMES: $56,763180 CAP WITH JAMES: $6,301,820

 

According to ShamSports’ salary figures, the Suns have $34,309,863 in guaranteed salaries and cap holds, not including Ish Smith or Dionte Christmas. That leaves them with $28,755,137 in space.

That would be enough to sign James, whose expected max contract will start out at $20,644,400, according to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger. Rookies T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis count against the cap, but the Suns’ second-round pick, Alec Brown, doesn’t come with a cap hold. Fellow first-round pick Bogdan Bogdanovic, meanwhile, has a written agreement he won’t play for Phoenix this year, taking his hold off the books.

Even if Phoenix brought back the two most likely non-guaranteed players in Ish Smith and Dionte Christmas, there is plenty of cap space to work with once Channing Frye signs with Orlando, and the team renounces the rights to Emeka Okafor and Leandro Barbosa.

Phoenix could still have $6.3 million in cap space to sign another player if James signed. Of course, this is all theoretical, but it paints the picture of just how much flexibility the Suns are working with.

What will they do with all that money to spend?

Retaining Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker will be the top priorities, but after that it’s hard to tell. All seems quiet — for now.

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