Phoenix Suns: Top five restricted free agents under 25-years-old

Clint Capela Phoenix Suns (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Clint Capela Phoenix Suns (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns need to add young impactful players this summer and they should be willing to pay big money to sign one or more restricted free agents.

If the Phoenix Suns want a chance to add a legit young piece to their core without making a trade, then the franchise will have to take a chance on signing a restricted free agent this summer. There is always a risk of overpaying restricted free agents, due to how free agency works. With that in mind, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough should make sure that he hits home on any restricted free agent signing. There are five restricted free agents under the age of 25 that McDonough should be willing to take a calculated risk on this offseason.

No. 5

Multiple right hand injuries have sidelined Boston Celtics combo guard Marcus Smart for most of 2018, however Smart’s gritty style of defense is exactly what the Suns need. Smarts has a career steal average of 1.5 per game and has 9.8 defensive win shares (DWS) for his four year career. The good news with Smart is that Celtics are over the salary cap this season and might not want to go over the cap long term to retain him. Smart’s defense would be a nice compliment to Devin Booker‘s offensive skill.

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No. 4

Early in this past regular season, I wrote about how Phoenix should have made a trade for Los Angeles Lakers big man Julius Randle. Randle had his best year as a pro yet, setting a career high in field goal percent and points per game. The Suns may not have to worry about the Lakers wanting to retain Randle, that’s if the Lakers can lure a superstar or two this summer during free agency. Randle could start in either power forward or center position for the Suns based on what the franchise does in the draft.

No. 3

Center Jusuf Nurkic has had a career year this season and has been a great third wheel to the Portland Trail Blazers’ dynamic guard duo. Like Boston, Portland has been over the cap limit this season and there appears to be no relief in sight for them. Unless the Trial Blazers can off load a big contract or two via trade, the club will have to pay a big luxury tax bill to re-sign their big man. If the Suns are unable to draft a franchise center and unable to sign the number one player on this list, then Nurkic would solidify the center position for the club moving forward.

No. 2

Orlando Magic power forward Aaron Gordon has the potential to be a star in the league. He’s already known for his elite dunking skills.

Gordon could put on a dunk clinic whenever, but his career year scoring, 3-point shooting, rebounding and playmaking makes him an interesting fit next to Booker. Adding Gordon would give the Suns a legit core of Booker, Gordon and Josh Jackson. Those three could easily develop into a scary group that could intimidate most teams. The Suns’ may have difficulty adding Gordon, because Orlando’s cap situation isn’t terrible and they could match any contract Phoenix offers. However, Gordon believes he’s a max-contract player and the two parties couldn’t agree to a contract extension prior to the beginning of the season, so if the Suns want Gordon they will have to pay a max contract. Still, there’s no guarantee that Orlando won’t match a max contract given by Phoenix.

No. 1

Clint Capela has been a very important part of the highly successful Houston Rockets this season. The center’s stats speak to his ability to impact a game.

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If by some chance the Suns miss out on a star center in the draft, Capela wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. However, due to the fact that he’s a key component to the Rockets’ success and the relative cap flexibility the Rockets are projected to have this offseason, it’s likely that Houston would match any contract offers to Capela. Not to say that the Suns shouldn’t try at all, but adding Capela is a long shot at this point.

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Each of the restricted free agents listed above are young and skilled enough to make a significant long term impact on the Phoenix Suns’ future success. McDonough and the rest of the Suns front office will have a hard time deciding which restricted free agents to focus their efforts on. The Suns can’t go wrong adding any of these players for the right price.