Five players the Suns should let walk in free agency

Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /
1 of 5
Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Dragan Bender (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the start of NBA free agency approaches, the Phoenix Suns will have some tough decisions to make on their personale for the 2019-20 season.

This season will mark the first of the five-year $158 million contract Devin Booker signed with the Phoenix Suns in summer of 2018. That means next season Booker will make $27.2 million, a number eventually grows to $36 million by 2023.

Although those numbers seem high, they are well worth it for the Suns. Booker has quickly established himself as a franchise star to build around for the coming future.

But the question remains, who will Phoenix surround Booker with beginning next season?

As it stands, the Suns have six guaranteed contracts for 2018-19 aside from Booker, with the strong likelihood that Tyler Johnson opts into his $19.2 million player-option for next season.

With the NBA draft and free agency quickly approaching, the Suns are going to have to fill those roster spots one way or another.

Here are five players the Suns should consider letting walk in free agency:

Dragan Bender

Bender is a tough pill to swallow.

The seven-foot-two power forward from Croatia has spent the better part of his three years in the league struggling to find his groove.

Yes, the argument can be made that he is still only 21-years-old.

But Bender was also drafted fourth overall in the 2016 draft with sky-high expectations. Those expectations most likely rooted from the rapid success of former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who dazzled in his rookie year as an international sensation.

While it wasn’t fair to compare Bender immediately to Porzingis, sadly such a comparison was bound to be made.

Bender has yet to average double-digit scoring in his three seasons with the Suns.

To make matters worse, he has shot 39.4 percent from the field in that span and only 32.1 percent from deep.

Yes, Bender has only played in 171 games (64 starts) but time and time again he has shown little growth from his rookie year.

Not only did Bender display a lack of aggression in the paint, but when he finally attacked the majority of the time he was bullied at the rim. That came along with the a regrettable 59.3% from the free throw line.

And while many fans considered him a stretch big, it actually turns out Bender’s numbers are worse when he shoots from deep.

This past season, Bender averaged a career-worse 21.8 percent from 3 in 46 games. This is more than a 14% drop from his previous campaign.

In the case that Phoenix pursues re-signing Bender, that should be in the form of a two-year contract at the longest. Bender needs to show that he was worth a top-five pick before he can sign long-term with the franchise.

Ideally, the Suns should let Bender go in free agency and move on from a former lottery pick.