ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton has put together an NBA free agency top-30 list based on projections of three-year WARP or “wins above replacement player.” By combining ESPN’s Real...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Suns have officially entered the LeBron James sweepstakes, but the unfortunate reality is that only one team can land his talents... which will result in a mass initiation of "Plan B" across the league.

A contingency plan.

In the event of a post-apocalyptic world that doesn't include LeBron James being reborn as a Phoenix... the Suns are going to need one.

Please don't stop reading. I know that I'm probably wasting both of our time, because why wouldn't James want a ride on the Orange Express, but prudence dictates resiliency. After all, what kind of fiduciary would McMiracle be if he wasn't ridiculously prepared for all possible eventualities?

Does he really seem like the type of ninja to get smoke screened? That's what I thought.

We all know Plan A is a reach for the stars, but Plan B is fraught with pitfalls as well.

Without trying to be too much of a stormy petrel here are a few of them...

Limited Resources


Here's a list of 20 of the top free agents. I'm not suggesting that these are necessarily the top 20, I didn't put them in order and I didn't list our own. A comprehensively ranked list can be found elsewhere... that's a different article. From perusing the full list of agents about to be freed in the coming days, though, it starts to thin out quite a bit after this.

While Phoenix is making a play at LeBron, isn't it just as likely (or moreso) that Miami is able to get James, Wade and Bosh to sign back up at a discount ($40 million combined) so they can add a couple players like Lowry and Gasol (for around $20 million combined).  Really, who knows?

Another scenario that sees LeBron leave Miami, let's pretend for Cleveland, suddenly makes the Heat big spenders. They would suddenly have $40 million+ available and need to refill a roster.

The Lakers could look like a pretty good option for Luol Deng.

There are lots of other scenarios. What starts out as a relative paucity of players could dwindle fairly quickly.

Stiff Competition

The Plan A competition consists of (at least) the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks. You could even add teams like the Golden St. Warriors if the pursuit of Kevin Love is considered more like 2A than B.

As soon as LeBron makes his intentions clear it will be like a reset of free agency. What this means is these remaining teams will be scurrying around to implement their own backup plans when their initial pursuit is fruitless.

The Suns will have their work cut out for them recruiting against this group (again).

Suns have money to burn

The Suns have $17 million on day 1 of free agency, unless they renounce free agents.

By renouncing Bledsoe, Frye, Tucker and releasing the last three guys on the roster, they could have up to $36.4 million available.

Money to Burn - in addition to the Suns


Chart courtesy of Spotrac.

The list above shows teams with a realistic ability to get at least $10 million below the $63.2 million salary cap. The workings of the CBA are quite esoteric, so these numbers are just rough figures and many of them would require specific, and in some cases difficult, action by the teams to achieve. The Jazz, for instance, would have to renounce Gordon Hayward to get to $27 million, but even without that they could be around $18 million. Giving the exact details of each team's cap situation would require a separate article for each team.

Besides the Suns there are 12 other teams with the ability to clear over $10 million in cap space to strike in free agency.  This isn't even representative of the exact level of competition, though, with teams such as the Houston Rockets shedding salary to enter the fray and the potential cap situation of the Heat.

Dark Horses

Here's another potential problem. While the Suns and others are preoccupied, teams like the Pistons, with recent coaching addition Stan Van Gundy, and Bobcats, who will be looking to improve after last season's playoff appearance, will be looking to plunder some of the lower profile players.

It makes sense for these teams to strike while the iron is hot and lure away free agents before they are approached by potentially better destinations.

There are always the reaches, too, where a small to mid market overpays to bring in a player and offset other intangibles with financial compensation.

And who the hell knows what the Philadelphia 76ers are thinking...

Home Cooking

Although many of us are rooting for wanderlust, a lot of these guys will stay put... which may very well include LeBron James.

Just because players have become free agents doesn't mean that they are disenfranchised with their current situations. Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker and Channing Frye are all free agents, but I don't think they are all itching to leave Phoenix. Free agency is just a very normal part of the way business is conducted in the NBA and a process which is used all the time in negotiations where teams re-sign their players.

Trust the Process

Even if it takes going down to plan Q13 I'm sure the Suns have prepared for this period as well as possible. Don't forget that free agents are only a portion of what makes free agency such an exciting and pivotal time.

I would be highly surprised if the Suns don't make some kind of trade in the coming days. With the unpredictable, but overwhelmingly positive, results this front office has yielded there is likely something completely off the radar that is on the back burner.

And enjoy this. This time is very exciting and entertaining. After all, isn't that a big part of why we are fans?

The Phoenix Suns allowed Channing Frye to enter free agency and now, according to reports, are attempting to keep him.

By letting Channing Frye's contract expire the Phoenix Suns gave themselves financial flexibility to sign free agents but also ran the risk that another team might swoop in and make the versatile stretch big an offer he couldn't refuse.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports, the Suns will try and make sure they don't lose the veteran's services.

Suns pushing to re-sign Channing Frye, sources tell Yahoo. After opting-out of deal, Frye's surveying market, including Cavs, Warriors.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014

It's a bit early in the process to know what kind of terms are being discussed for Frye. One would assume Frye's inclination is to remain with his hometown team but like any player will expect to receive a fair offer.

LeBron James is an unrestricted free agent and the Phoenix Suns are one of many teams who will be seeking his talents. Regardless of the outcome of their hunt for the Holy Grail of the NBA, the Suns can't lose.

I don't know if the Phoenix Suns have a legitimate and realistic chance of landing LeBron James and neither do you. It's technically possible in the "anything is possible" and "cap space" sense. Beyond that? Who the hell knows the mind of a THE KING. He is a whimsical creature not known for following the rules that govern mere mortal behaviors when it comes to either gravity or employment decisions. He takes his talents where he will.

Oh, to be THE KING.

Victory doesn't always come in wins and losses.

What is very clear is the Suns have already won just by being associated with the physical embodiment of basketball perfection. The moment Woj dropped his bomb on Yahoo!, Ryan McDonough and Lon Babby crossed the finish line with their hands raised.

Even from afar (I now live on the eastern coast of the realm) I can feel the excitement from Suns fans in the Valley. Talk radio and the Twitterati are aglow and all the discussion both locally and nationally is positive and hopeful. That's quite the turnaround from this time last year. Or the year before. Or the year before. Or the year before. Or the year before.

Even better, the Suns front office is being recognized and praised for their achievements in skillful asset acquisition and financial management. They've done nothing this week to change anything about their assets or finances and yet here they are, basking in the glow of their prior accomplishments as the fickle beam of national attention focuses its favor on the US Airways Center.

Victory doesn't always come in wins and losses.

Even Robert Sarver may finally be escaping from under the "cheapskate" mantle which was always an ill-fitting label but something he earned through a few bad basketball decisions and even worse management of his image. Suddenly "Banker Bob" is a guy who can't wait to spend into the luxury tax (as if any sane owner wouldn't gladly spend into the luxury tax to surround THE KING with a contending team).

That's the way of things with public perception. Sometimes you are the dog when it's underserved and sometimes you are the hero for doing the obvious. Smart organizations understand how to put their finger on that scale. It's something the Suns have struggled with for many years but with this one leak* of relatively obvious news -- The Suns pursuit of LeBron shouldn't exactly be a surprise to anyone -- they've come out as winners even if LeBron's talents stay in South Beach.

*I have no idea if this leak originated on Jefferson Ave. but I'd certainly like to think the revitalized Suns front office deserves credit for this shrewd bit of public diplomacy.

I would be shocked (gobsmacked really) if LeBron puts on the purple and orange but I fully expect the team to continue to improve. This little bit of fun rumor is a wake up call to many casual fans in Arizona and beyond to expect the same.

A postscript: All of this wouldn't be possible if the Suns had followed the "expert advice" and tanked last season. By proving their promise they are in the hunt for THE KING or various other princes evaluating the market. That's certainly worth ten spots in the draft.

So the NBA Draft was last week, and that would certainly be news enough, but have you heard these free agent rumors?  That's right Ryan Hollins is out there!  If nothing else he can provide a little advice for us if things don't go our way during free agency.

No, of course we are referring to Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony.  Everyone has an opinion where these two will land, so here's a quick update:

The Suns are banking on James' "basketball acumen and business intelligence."

James and Anthony playing together is not as far fetched as it sounds.

Wait, yes it is.

Hang on, it's actually the only thing that makes sense.

There are other players showing up on the Suns radar, as Phoenix has emerged as the possible landing spot for Pau Gasol, joining at least six other teams.

And you've been living under a rock if you're not caught up on the Suns interest in Utah's Gordon Hayward.

With the latest news we've received regarding other big time free agents, what happened to all the noise about Kevin Love becoming a Phoenix Sun?

Either way, as far as the power forward position is concerned, Suns fans don't seem very optimistic that a big name free agent will be making their way to Phoenix.

But listen up!  We already have new players!  And critical to their success will be the chemistry they bring to the current squad.

Some think T.J. Warren is "the best player you've never heard of."

Some also think that Tyler Ennis may never put on a Suns uniform.

It is anticipated Bogdan Bogdanovich will return to Europe.

While the Suns grabbed a record breaking shot blocker with 3 point range with pick number 50.

And for anyone who missed it last week, here's a friendly reminder of what Gerald Green can do above the rim.

Page 833 of 2168


Web Links

Sponsored Ads