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.

  • Joe Jacquez

    Yahoo Sports reported that the Suns are out of the Lebron sweepstakes

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Kevin Zimmerman

      Using James’ salary just to illustrate the money they have to spend.

      • coachj

        and as I have said in three other posts, they do not have the ability to sign both James and Melo without trading almost everyone on this team.

    • JT3

      If you think about it the Suns were never in it in the first place. While McDonough I’m sure was smart enough like Dallas and Denver to know that in the first place as well. But McD may have been handcuffed this whole time, while Robert Sarver goes to Cle to talk to Bron’s agent?

      I figured all that talk from Bob on the Radio about spending money and saying they would move on quickly if interest wasn’t reciprocated from James’s camp, was all a smokescreen to sell to a rather limp fan base of dwindling season ticket holders. [it's getting pretty desperate now post Nash] Just like with last Summer’s RFA Eric Gordon, Sarver acts like he’s going to do something with all that cap space and then targets the one guy everyone seems to understand is not coming here. [AGAIN'] While Chandler Parons slips through their fingers because everyone knew James was going to give Riley at least the Week to make some moves of his own While McD sits and waits for Sarver to move on and [Get real] and ditch his Planet Orange ignite the Future PR stunts and pageantry.

      I really doubt Mark Cuban and Denver are really all that much smarter then Ryan McDonagh when it comes to reading/navigating the NBA FA waters. I really, really [really] don’t. I have big hopes for our McD. But what I have always thought for a few years now is Robert Sarver doesn’t want to go over $55 Million give or take a few $$ and by golly I bet that’s miraculously where they will somehow end up -again- no matter what Sarver said after that Radio and TV campaign of his bragging about cap space and really wanting to spend it ..oh but alas they just don’t want to come here!.Lol. [ALL in my own op of course]

  • Arizona Jim

    Yahoo retracted too. No one knows what LeBron gonna do.

    • Luka

      LeBron is hoping Bosh takes the max deal in Houston to pave the way for Melo to join the Heat.

      The Suns should just re-sign Bledsoe, and Tucker. Then sign Ed Davis to a modest 4 year 23 million dollar offer. That’s all I’d do at this point.

      • JT3

        That was likely the plan from the start but Sarver just had to take to the TV and Radio and build up all the PR hopes and dreams which I’ll admit I let my self imagine it too a bit. But I’d like to have seen what Summer Magic Ryan McD could’ve [should've done ] if Robert Sarver wouldn’t have taken over the reigns once again and Sarverd another Summer.

        Meanwhile Cuban scooped up Parsons- dang that’s a nice get. Suns needed to make a leap this summer to solidify a Playoff berth but now I think they stay as a pure playoff bubble team. And that’s with Ed or Morrow or whomever they do nab on a one or two yr deal. I’m doubting McD is going to want to sign anyone longer then to a one year, but may go two years, for a stop gap. Tho my personal belief is ED Davis could thrive in an uptempo system Like when he blossomed on the Raps squad.

        Hey – Doesn’t anyone else find it fishy when you see Sarver all over the air Waves bragging about spending money?? I mean really we thought he might have learned his lessons but the man owns the team and can’t help get out of his own way. At Least McD is smart and can make things happen anyway kinda like the Clippers built a contender with solid drafting and a few great moves all with a inbred baby of their own hiding down in the basement the whole time.

  • WLX(AL)

    Maybe…Just Maybe, Bledsoe is working the phones and entices LB to play with him in the valley. Kyrie is good on offense, but average at defense. Then again, the news that Pop will be with the Spurs for another 5 years will probably scare LbJ from coming West. This brings me to one question:

    IF an East All-Star player is afraid to go to the Western Conference because it’s too ‘competitive’, does that make all the role players in the West teams more brave than the East All-Star?

    I also have high hopes for TJ Warren. He could be a dark horse RoY candidate this year if he gets plenty of playing time to develop…Kind of like Damian Lillard was 2 years ago.

    • JT3

      I’m thinking LBJ has the luxury to go and get Paid wherever he wants, and the role players out West go wherever they can fit for whatever money they can get. Right now Lebron is King and he eats at the head of the table and everyone else eats his scraps. Not sure you’re using the word scare correctly in this case?

  • Gilbert Arenas

    Damn Suns! Got all the money but doesn’t want to spend. Damn just damn.

    • SN13PS

      That’s hardly the case IMO. They’ve been building towards this off-season since the Nash sign-and-trade (even more so once McDonough arrived). It’s not that Sarver doesn’t want to spend, it’s that, as far as anyone knows, no marquee players are willing to take the Suns’ cash.

      Whatever the case may be, though. I’m going to just continue to put my trust in McDonough (even if that means keeping the powder dry for now and continuing to improve from within). All the moves he made last off-season came out of nowhere. Here’s hoping his ninja-like movements in the front office continue this off-season as well.

  • JT3

    This is a good article for me to bring up Emeka Okafor. Where is he at? Did he secretly retire along with Alan Iverson? Healthy yet? Broke? Rich? Went back to school? back to the future? Going to play the tall guy in the next Major League sequel? [ pretty awesome idea actually ] Oh wait I think I know, He’s waiting to see where his highness lands first and then the other dominoes can fall.

    On the real tho, he was a nice big when he was healthy. I can’t help but wonder why he can’t be at least an
    alternate to plan C.

    • Luka

      Okafor is done dude.

      • JT3

        So it would seem…=C

  • Guest

    LeBron or Melo will sign and be a sun next season… Cut the losses and go after some one you can get. Like Bosh (need some big men) or the next top PF or C that are available. keep the core bring back Tucker and Bledsoe

  • zachi

    Both Lebron and Melo won’t sign and be a sun next season… Cut the losses and go after some one you can get. Like Bosh (need some big men) or the next top PF or C that are available. Keep the core bring back Tucker and Bledsoe

  • Boomer

    Thoughts from a fan down under … Most things get f….d up by people thinking short term when they should be thinking long term. For the Suns, thinking short term would be spending big on a Tier 2 star so we can battle for the 8th seed in the west. Based on actions to date it looks like McD is thinking long term (eg drafting guys on their potential in 5-6 years). Hopefully he/they maintain that focus. As a fan, I’m enjoying watching the intelligent growth of a team of guys we can all get to know. I’m sure I’m not alone. It will make the eventual triumphs even more deeply satisfying.

    • JT3

      There’s definitely some wisdom in what you’re saying.

    • sunsn7

      Yes Boomer. The Suns need to stick to their plan of drafting well and developing their young, potential stars. Certainly not for overpaying for a Parsons, Hayward, or Monroe. The interest in Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas just might be FO posturing in negotiations with Eric Bledsoe. But who knows? If the Suns don’t max Bledsoe, I’ll be an understanding fan. Next years’ draft class will be rich with frontline players. If the Suns are smart, they will be the envy of the league in 2 years.

  • Matthew Wilcoxen

    Ok, so I think everyone is overlooking our best option: GREG MONROE. The Pistons are negotiating to get him for about $12m/yr. I think we could swoop in at $14-15m/yr. It’s a big risk, but the only way we are getting a top-10 player is by drafting him or signing him before he becomes a top-10 player. None of the best players in their prime are coming to Phoenix. It isn’t the team, it isn’t the fans, it’s the CITY. Phoenix is not aesthetically or culturally appealing. It’s one giant suburban sprawl. That is why LeBron, Bosh, Love, etc aren’t going to Phx. You have to go for a guy like Monroe–get him now, develop him, and then you can win him over and sign him to his next contract. Stop trying to get current superstars in their prime. It’s a waste of effort.

    • 4everis2long

      Matthew there is a lot of truth in your message. While I like Monroe and would have no problem with him being in Phoenix, I would have rather the Suns sign Parsons and Ed Davis, also two guys 25 or younger. What I totally agree with in your message is while Phoenix/Scottsdale is a great place to live, some of these alleged superstar free agents and their families want an environment that is more culturally diverse than Phoenix. The chances of them coming to a non-playoff team with a limited culture is not very good. Parsons or even Monroe who probably have not reached their prime are guys we should be aggressively pursuing. Your points are well taken.

      • coachj

        I think culture has less to do with it. Sure, there is this idea that “big markets” offer financial opportunities that Phoenix cannot. But the reality is that only affects a limited number of people. Lebron will make his money no matter if he was on the moon. Second Tier guys can make more in NY or LA from endorsements. But the rest, like a PJ Tucker or a Channing Frye, going to a big market has less effect than you think. Their contracts are their biggest assets.

        There is also those who want to party and be “in the life”. Sure, but the reality is most players want to have guaranteed money and be taken care of and revered. Why do you think they play in Milwaukee. Why would anyone want to live in Detroit?

        Think of it this way, I was talking to a friend who happens to be a former Suns player [and all-star] – i will not say his name.

        As he laid it out for me – “PHX should be one of the top 3 destinations for any player, bar-none. There is a reason it is the only town that teams actually request to stay overnight before heading out to another game or home. There are only a couple of places people do that. NY ain’t one of them. MIA, yeah. LA, yeah. But everyone I know loves it here. They all love the weather, golf, and the fact they can go to the store and not get mauled by people. You can’t go anywhere in NY if you are Melo. You got 30 people taking pictures of you and following you around. Same thing with Kobe in LA. That doesn’t happen here. Yeah, you will get fans asking for autographs and pics, but people are generally nice and leave you alone. That ain’t happening in those other places.”

        That is not me saying that, it is the player. I believe him. I think players who have come here, stay.

        I don’t think the culture has as much to do as the owner.

        He goes on to say, “When Colangelo ran the team, he could get a meeting with ANYONE. If MJ was thinking about leaving the Bulls, he would have talked to Jerry. The reason nobody will even consider Phoenix is 100% Sarver. He has a very bad reputation among the players, being cheap, selling off picks, inputting himself too much into the team. The biggest thing is his crying poor and leading the push against the players association during the lockout. They all know that and they all talk to each other about that. I hear it. Nobody really wants to play for Sarver. It is almost as bad as Sterling. Not quite, but Sarver is the reason nobody considers playing here.”

        I believe that too. I have heard this similar sentiment from two other former players. Makes a lot of sense. I think the courting of James is an effort to change that perception, and not a real attempt to get James. I think it is a PR stunt so that Sarver can say he tried to lure James here and was willing to throw money around. Same with the Hayward talk and Parsons talk. If they were really willing to do that, they would have thrown offers to either, instead they leak out “interest” and saying things like they will offer a max to Hayward, when in reality they will do no such thing.

        We shall see in regards to Bledsoe. I am getting the feeling he will be traded now that they are talking Thomas and drafted Ennis. Why? Because Sarver doesn’t want to pay him. Not saying he is wrong, but I believe he simply won’t. We shall see.

        • DBreezy

          I agree that Sarver has had a lot to do with the perception around here. A shame too since he lucked into a much better franchise than say, Mark Cuban. Sarver could have done a lot to continue the Suns good name organizationally beyond Colangelo but he failed. There has been and will be considerable debate about many of those moves and whether the criticism of them was/is far, but ten years later I think it’s hard to argue that the league-wide perception of Sarver from players and a lot of front offices suffered during that time. On paper this is a really easy place to get people to play, especially in a the salary cap era where going to a big market city truly guarantees you nothing.

          • Matthew Wilcoxen

            I’m not sure how old you guys are, but I think you’re underestimating the hipster factor here. Phoenix isn’t cool to a guy in his mid to late twenties. And, no, I’m not talking about partying. Many of these players want the experience of a world class city–they want the natural beauty, the architectural features, a central cultural district, a fashion scene, the history of the place and so on and so forth. In other words, they want the same thing the rest of us want, and they can get it. There is a reason that real estate is cheaper in Phoenix than in, say, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. Those are experience cities-places people from all over the world want to visit, simply because they are beautiful and interesting. Phoenix is not beautiful nor interesting. It is a lot like Orlando–hot, suburban sprawled, and full of outlet malls and lots of golf courses. Sure we all like to go there for a week or two now and then, but those cities just aren’t cool places that people are dying to live. So when someone at the top of their profession can choose where to live, they’re not choosing Phoenix generally.

          • 4everis2long

            Matthew while I am no longer in my twenties or thirties but I have been coming to Phoenix at least once a year to play golf and watch the Suns for over 15 years and I love the place. In a weird way I think it is beautiful in a western sense. However I agree that the hip hop generation wants more than what Phoenix has to offer which is what I tried to explain to Coach above. They want night clubs that are culturally diverse, Black restaurants, Black theatre, Black barber shops, racially diverse schools with high academic standards. Your point is well taken.

          • DBreezy

            I’m still in my 30′s, but do understand what both you and Foreveris are talking. I travel a lot and go out in all those cities you mentioned and more. However, I think it’s only a huge problem for a few NBA cities like MIN, UTA, and CHA. Obviously it’s a sliding scale, but the problem for most other teams is a lack of appealing talent to play with and/or suspect management. Boston hasn’t really ever attracted a top free agent. They’ve built their best teams before the free agency era (1988) and since then via the draft and trades not free agency. The Knicks and Lakers are free agent meccas that have or are suffering due to poor management and rosters and the bay was dormant for years as a destination.

            If T-Mac had never left Toronto, that squad probably would have been dominant in the East and attracted free agent talent to what is an excellent town. Instead he left and he team consistently had bad management which put them in the abyss. Orlando found a way to be a destination for a bit, but it was because of the players not the town. The Suns are going to have to find a way to get talent people want to play with and continue pushing Sarver into the background management wise. Ultimately, I don’t think the town will be a big negative for them in decisions by free agents. A great talent makes places like OKC and SA non-issues for free agents. To me that was the early promise of Amar’e Stoudemire and they need that again.

        • 4everis2long

          While I certainly agree that Sarver is the most compelling reason we are having problems or challenges getting free agents, not to mention the non-playoff status we have had recently, I have known Black players who think Phoenix is a great place to visit but those with families seem to want more racially diverse schools and more cultural diversity for their spouses. The guys whom I have spoken to who are single love Phoenix.I lived there for three years and loved it and may get a home there again but I understand what some players have said and why. I also lived in Sacramento for awhile and they too have had problems getting big time free agents. Chris Webber thought long and hard about signing again with the Kings due to the cultural diversity issue but no one else would make him a max offer. One of the first things he did after signing the new contract was open a soul food restaurant.

          I think the diversity issue can be overlooked when you have a very good team but when you are marginal it is an issue. I guarantee if you talk to multiple Black basketball players most of the married ones with options will discuss the limited diversity issue.

          • coachj

            all of the players I have talked to are black and married with kids. have you ever been to Atlanta? You would think it extremely diverse and accepting for a black family, yet the two friends I have that both recently moved there have both left because or racial issues. One friend has a white wife, and their kids are mixed – and they had issues in their area. The other, both black, lived in a different area and their kids were bullied in school.

            Both in fact moved to Miami. The all black family moved after 4 months – racial issues again – and the other is still there and agrees that there are issues as well. Both families had originally thought that Phoenix was a fairly racist area, but now both believe they know what racism is based on their experiences in the South. Both have said that Phoenix is very mild in comparison. We just get a bad rap because we have douchebag politicians that get on national TV for things that do not represent what most normal people stand for. Way of the world…

            I am not saying there aren’t players who have the perception. But I am still in the camp that the biggest and most overwhelming obstacle has been Sarver. Again, Colangelo wouldn’t have this problem.

          • 4everis2long

            Coach, my first sentence says Sarver is the most compelling reason for getting quality free agents, so we do not disagree. However so there is no misunderstanding the players both Suns at the time and players on other teams whom I was able to hang out with have never mentioned racism. While some mentioned they had problems living in a city that did not recognize Martin Luther King Day, essentially they just wanted more Black entertainment, Black restaurants and more color in the schools combined with high academic standards.

            True story, one night I lost a bet for drinks to a tv camera man for the team the Suns played in the playoffs. I had to pay the bet at the Ritz in Phoenix. Much to my surprise 90% of the opposing team showed up in the bar and the guy I lost the bet to put me on blast that I was a Suns fan. Some of the same issues I mentioned above are the same things they criticized the city for. Personally I think Phoenix is one of the top places in the country to live but I understand the concerns of some NBA players.

          • KlausFlouride

            Sorry to chime in but I think you are wording it wrong when you talk about “culturally diverse”, forever. The city is diverse but not towards “black’s”. The city itself is over 40% Hispanic.

            My kids go to a north valley public school in the suburbs that is only 56% white and 32% Asian. My kids school ranks in the top 50 every year out of 1,100+ schools in AZ.

            They don’t want diversity, they want black. That’s understandable and to be expected of any race. For some PC reason, it isn’t kosher to think or speak that way though. It’s too bad because that, in of itself, isn’t racist.

          • 4everis2long

            Absolutely you are correct Klaus. Glad you chimed in. When I said cultural diversity I could have said they want more black businesses and schools with more Black children and competent Black teachers but I thought it was implied. The Black athletes want diversity with the Black population included therein, not excluded. I do not think the Black NBA players are looking for all Black schools and all Black cities. I definitely agree that does not reflect racist views but I suspect some will mistaken it as such. Good dialogue.

  • 4everis2long

    Did I miss a wedding announcement somewhere? Did the Suns get engaged to LBJ and no one told me? Look I have no problem expressing interest in LBJ in fact I applaud it but when he will not meet with you individually after explaining your blue print for championship success to the agent, it is time to move on. I mean you cannot make plans with the lady who will not have a cup of coffee with you. I think LBJ is a drama queen and he is unintentionally holding Sarver hostage. However Dallas was intelligently aggressive in going after Parsons which no doubt improves their team and places Houston in a very uncomfortable position. The Suns had the ability to do that but for whatever reason sat on their hands apparently waiting for LBJ.

    If McD stated the Suns wanted to win 55-60 games this coming season I sure wish he would explain how that was going to happen while being virtually irrelevant in free agency. Oh there is time to pick up a nice player but no one who will make this a 55-60 win team IMO. I am ok without winning 55-60 games but do not try and sell us on the aggressive free agency propaganda. However the Suns need to make the playoffs to restore some credibility to the franchise. Dallas, Denver and Golden State I think have all improved.

    • coachj

      i just replied to you above… The James thing is a PR stunt to try and change the perception of Sarver within the NBA and Fan community. He can say, “see, I tried to sign James AND Melo, but they were not interested. I was going to offer Hayward or Parsons a max deal, but those other teams jumped on it too soon. But hey, I am willing to spend everyone…”

      McD probably told sarver that he needs to say these things in order to show people that he can be a player in the next round of “steal the free agent”… Won’t work. But good try.

      I do not believe for one second that McD, or Lon Babby believed they had a shot at Lebron or Melo. They just want to get into the discussion in the media so they are percieved as players with big time free agents.

      • coachj

        i also don’t think they believe they have a real shot at Love either.

      • 4everis2long

        Probably.

  • Dylan

    Wtf. beasely isn’t even on the suns

  • coachj

    Where is Cotton when you need him! RIP

    He would have been able to get Lebron, Melo and Love!