Report: Brandon Knight Wanted $48 Million From Milwaukee

Feb 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) shoots the ball during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Suns won 110-96. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) shoots the ball during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Suns won 110-96. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest piece of the roster for the Phoenix Suns to re-sign this summer is easily combo guard Brandon Knight. Though he struggled during his short time in Phoenix, particularly because of an ankle injury that limited him to 11 games, the front office is confident that Knight is the right long-term piece to pair with Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt.

Thanks to a report from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News last week, we have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to the Suns trying to re-sign their restricted free agent this summer:

"“In discussing an extension last year, the Bucks held the line on Knight at $9 million per year, where Knight wanted something in the range of four years and $48 million.”"

With the Milwaukee Bucks this year, Knight was one of the most improved players in the league and a borderline All-Star. He averaged 17.8 points, 5.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from three-point range.

Knight also averaged similar numbers with the Bucks in 2013-14, but he improved his efficiency, became a floor general under head coach Jason Kidd and his three-point shooting shot up by more than eight percent from the season before. He was arguably the best player on a Bucks team that was situated sixth in the Eastern Conference and because of all this, he boosted his leverage considerably for negotiations this summer.

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If Knight wanted $12 million per season with the Bucks, it’s likely he’ll command something in the $12-15 million range this summer with the Suns.

An initial reaction to that statement is probably bewilderment. How does a guy’s value increase after his time in Phoenix was a complete disappointment? After all, Knight’s numbers dropped to 13.4 points, 4.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 0.5 steals per game on 35.7 percent shooting from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range.

The ankle injury — and subsequent offseason surgery — certainly didn’t help, depriving the front office of seeing what kind of backcourt chemistry Knight and Bledsoe could develop.

That being said, Knight’s limited time actually gives him more leverage in banging out a deal with a team he’s said he wants to stick with.

Because he only played 11 games, any problems he displayed in adjusting to playing off the ball can be chalked up to going through an adjustment period (which they probably should be).

Furthermore, Knight is expected to make a full recovery from his arthroscopic surgery, so there’s no way to spin that injury as a way to take an extra million or two off his deal.

Then you factor in the details of the NBA’s new TV deal and it’ll be a wonder if the front office can sign him to a deal worth less than what Eric Bledsoe earned last summer.

The salary cap is set to jump to $67.1 million next season, which isn’t a substantial increase. But after that, the cap will leap to unheard-of-levels for the 2016-17 season, with the projected amount set at $89 million. In 2017-18, it’s projected to make another massive leap to $108 million — nearly double what it was during the 2014-15 season.

With this knowledge, players and their agents have all the leverage in these types of discussions. Now that everyone knows how current max contracts will seem miniscule in just a few seasons, it’ll be harder to talk free agents down from the massive amounts of money they’ll be capable of making.

What we might end up seeing is Knight taking a riskier path and signing a one-year deal so that he can rejoin the free agency market when the salary cap balloons. He could do a two-year deal with the same intent. Or he could sign his qualifying offer (worth $5 million) to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Bearing all that in mind, backloading Knight’s deal (on a long-term contract) might be the best course of action. There’s no reason to think he can’t become a good backcourt mate for Bledsoe and at the age of 23, he’s still not done improving. It seems like a lot to stomach right now, but a max-level offer might be the best course of action for now.

That’s right Suns fans. Thanks to the NBA’s new TV deal, an extension for Brandon Knight in the $12-15 million range might wind up being a great deal down the road.

Next: Phoenix Suns: 2014-15 Player Grades

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