Why the Phoenix Suns should overpay Royce O'Neale

The Phoenix Suns look likely to bring Royce O'Neale back on a new contract, and it may be in their interests to overpay the player to do so.
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

It is no secret that the biggest and most important order of offseason business for the Phoenix Suns is to bring back swingman Royce O'Neale. The player proving a popular choice with teammates and fans alike after moving to The Valley at the trade deadline from the Brooklyn Nets.

O'Neale had some nice moments during the regular season - although once the Suns got to the playoffs - he was one of many who failed to spark the team into life. O'Neale is an unrestricted free agent this summer, although all indications are that the Suns would like to have him back.

Despite having one of the worst cap sheets in the entire league, it may also be in the best interests of the franchise to overpay the player to do so.

This doesn't sound right on the surface. After all the Suns are paying over $150 million to three stars next season alone in Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. They also brought Grayson Allen back on a four year, $70 million contract prior to the playoffs beginning. That Allen then went missing against the Minnesota Timberwolves was a big concern as well.

Why then would they add to an outrageous salary bill for what would be five players, when they would still have to fill out their roster and only have minimum deals to do so? It is true that if the Suns brought O'Neale back on a similar deal to Allen, that owner Mat Ishbia would have to pay even more again in penalty tax for doing so.

Only Ishbia has already spoken about his desire to do so, and it is not our jobs to care if an extremely wealthy man wants to spend whatever it takes to build a competitive roster. For fans who lived through the Robert Sarver experience, the idea that somebody would put their hands in their pockets like Ishbia continues to do is a great thing.

But adding O'Neale for say two years, $38 million or even more over a longer stretch would unlock trade possibilities the Suns currently cannot enter into. As they are above the second apron - with our without also paying O'Neale which is important - they cannot stack salaries on top of each other to try and get a deal done.

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So for example they can't add Jusuf Nurkic and Allen's contracts together, to go and get another star. They also can't take one dollar more back in a deal than the contract that is going out either. Which is where the importance of overpaying O'Neale some could end up working really well for the Suns down the road.

If O'Neale is making say $17 million a season and you pair that with the Suns' 2031 first-round pick, all of a sudden they could get access to players who are currently beyond them. Nurkic might make similar money, but his value isn't on the same level of O'Neale's to all kinds of teams in the league. Overpaying for him to come back then would seem to make sense for everybody.