The Phoenix Suns never saw it coming, nor did their fans. But after Luka Doncic and his pesky sidekicks sprayed them from deep in the second round this year, they now find themselves in their bleakest position as a franchise since before their bubble run.
Now, the time it takes to stomach such an ugly postseason exit differs for everyone. Most fans take one or two weeks before looking onto next year, and players usually jump right back in the gym after a few days.
However, there’s no rest for general managers and front offices.
As it stands now, the Suns only possess nine players under contract for next year. That list includes Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Cameron Johnson, and Landry Shamet.
By process of elimination, that leaves Phoenix with the following free agents: Bismack Biyombo, Elfrid Payton, JaVale McGee, Deandre Ayton, Ish Wainright, and Aaron Holiday. The latter three are all restricted free agents though, giving the Suns a bit of leverage.
Between all these names and their monetary value, James Jones and company certainly have their work cut out for them this summer. With Bridges’s max deal ready to kick in, Shamet’s price about to triple, and Johnson eligible for an extension, some difficult cuts are certain to take place in the Valley of the Sun.
Although this team’s championship window remains open, their budgetary “golden days” have come and gone, as their younger players are beginning to grow out of their rookie deals and look for more money. With that, these three Suns players will likely become the sacrificial lambs to keep the team afloat from a fiscal standpoint and depart the organization.