Sneaky move could bail the Suns out of a bind

Phoenix is in a tricky situation, but one clever solution could help them begin to get out of it.
Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With the Phoenix Suns' season officially over, an up-and-down year has drawn to a close and the team now finds itself in a precarious situation. The Suns are set to give out massive paychecks to Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, all while having almost no draft picks to work with over the next several seasons.

This is the bed Phoenix made, and now they must sleep in it. With the front office's ability to build a team severely handicapped, many are wondering where the Suns turn from here. Their decision to go all-in on three stars that are far from a seamless fit with each other has backfired in a huge way, and there are few ways out of this situation.

Even the teams who finished this season at the bottom of the standings are looking at the Suns and breathing a sigh of relief they are not Phoenix, despite what team owner Mat Ishbia might tell you. But no challenge exists without some kind of solution, right? So with such a bleak reality, how do the Suns move forward and attempt to right their wrongs?

Jake Fischer from Yahoo! Sports proposed a rather unique idea. In his mind, Phoenix could utilize one of their top role players in a way that would empower them to be able to improve their roster. The Suns could hypothetically sign Royce O'Neale to a contract extension that they understand is an overpay, because doing so would allow them to get multiple potential rotation players back.

One reporter suggests the Suns could sign-and-trade Royce O'Neale

The reasoning behind this idea is that the Suns are in terrible financial position, and do not want to incur the penalties of the first and second "apron," a new level to the NBA's financial structure first implemented last summer. According to the terms of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, teams spending over $172 million in a financial year will be penalized according to the "first apron."

When this happens, one of the main penalties implemented is that a team can not acquire a player in a sign-and-trade that keeps them above the apron. This of course limits what trades can be made, and Fischer's reasoning here is that the Suns could reasonably sign-and-trade O'Neale if it meant them cutting costs in the process.

Phoenix's roster is incredibly thin at the moment. They are relying heavily on their star power, and we are seeing how well that is going for them so far. The Suns did not run into significant injury trouble this past season, but imagine if they did next year? The team clearly needs more role players to fill out the bench and provide some insurance.

Royce was obviously solid in his few months as a Sun post-trade deadline, but he is expendable enough that Phoenix should at least be open to the idea of trying something like this. If you can turn O'Neale into two or even three lower-cost rotation players, it would seem like a no-brainer move.