Steve Nash’s move to Los Angeles has been the biggest story of free agency so far (with apologies to Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Mikhail Prohkorov, and all of Russia). Nash has left Phoenix after...

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One more time for Shannon Brown?

Only 4 days left in the July Moratorium. On July 11th, if not earlier, the game of posturing between the Suns, the Hornets, and Eric Gordon will reach a rumbling crescendo. Is it a game of chicken between the Suns and Hornets or are the teams just pawns in Gordon's plan to educe the best possible contract?

Gordon spoke with ESPN's Ric Bucher yesterday and reaffirmed his desire to play for Phoenix.

"Phoenix just showed a lot more interest, overall, and definitely in how they negotiated," Gordon said. "I don't know what New Orleans' plans are for me. There are no negotiations right now."

In other news today, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 620 KTAR, who broke the story on Nash to the Lakers, offered new insight to the Suns potential plans if they fail to acquire Gordon.

If NO matches offer sheet for Gordon which they apparently will then Suns will turn attention to keeping Shannon Brown.

— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) July 6, 2012

He also tweeted about the possible future of unrestricted free agent Grant Hill.

No decision yet by Grant Hill, Suns obviously want him back and believe he either plays for them or retires. But Lakers must be intriguing.

— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) July 6, 2012

Take the leap to examine the possible implications.

While Gordon has been consistent about wanting to play in Phoenix, his comments haven't seemed particularly forceful to me. He may need to elevate his petitions to a more vehement and vociferous level if he is really determined to play hardball with the Hornets.

There are two likely scenarios:

1. The Suns sign Eric Gordon to a 4 year $58 million offer sheet and the Hornets match. Game over, Gordon is a Hornet.

2. The Suns work out a sign and trade deal with New Orleans for Gordon.

There are other possible (but not likely) outcomes. The Hornets could decline to match the Suns' offer and let Gordon leave. Gordon could elect to sign his qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next year. Gordon could even negotiate a new contract with the Hornets and sign that by next Wednesday. I wouldn't give serious consideration to these options, then again, I didn't think Nash was going to the Lakers, either.

According to Gambadoro's tweet, Shannon Brown appears to be the next in line on the Suns' pecking order. OJ Mayo's name had been floated around, but given the way Brown performed down the stretch for the Suns, and factoring in financial implications, this might not be a terrible alternative.

Maybe it's possible to bring back Brown and Redd (who has also been named in rumors) on one year deals (more lucrative than last year's) so that the Suns can have expiring deals for cap space next summer? Instead of $13 million to Gordon, maybe these two would only cost $9 million and the Suns can also stay under the cap headed into the season and keep their cap flexibility during the season. Waiting on the salary cap to reset in July hindered the Suns ability to act in draft day trades. This might forestall a repeat occurrence and would also give the Suns the ability to absorb salary in regular season trades. No point in reaching and making desperate mistakes this summer. It's a dry heat (conducive to powder storage).

Grant Hill provides a different quandary. It seemed like a starting role was important to him. With the pending signing of Beasley, it appears that the best that would be available to Hill is a minor back up role. Depending on what happens with Gordon, it is also likely that the most the Suns would have to offer is a small exception.

Is Grant Hill willing to take a pay cut to play in a reduced role off the bench? It seems like the Suns are putting him in a compromising situation. If he wants to continue his NBA career, the Suns don't make much sense. Does anybody else get the feeling the Suns might be pressuring Hill into a forced retirement?

Joining Steve in LA is probably the most logical alternate destination. The Toronto Raptors have also reportedly expressed interest, but I can't fathom why that would be reciprocated. If Hill wants to prolong his career, and would like to continue to play a significant role, could you really blame him for electing to leave under the circumstances?

Poll
If Gordon is off the table, is Shannon Brown an acceptable back up plan?

  948 votes | Results


Steve Nash never won a championship with the Phoenix Suns. That’s the end of the story in a bottom line business. Yet for Nash, it’s always been more about the journey than the...

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Two new Suns?

Note: I could be entirely wrong on some of my conclusions. I welcome anyone who can provide evidence to the contrary.

We need to clear up some questions about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and its impact on the Suns this summer. We Suns fans are in territory we haven't been since 2005 - UNDER the salary cap, for purposes of signing new free agents.

One reason the Suns have not signed any players to big contracts in the past several years, or acquired huge contracts for nothing in return, is because they were not allowed to do so. Teams over the cap (salaries + cap holds + exceptions > $58.044 million) can only sign guys to $5 or less or exchange equal-sized contracts in trade.

Per Larry Coon's cbafaq.com, the Suns could position themselves in one of two ways this summer:

  1. As a team UNDER the cap
  2. As a team OVER the cap
When they agreed to large (ie. bigger than $5 million per year) contracts with Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic this week, the Suns apparently announced to the NBA that as of July 11, 2012 they would be UNDER the cap.

That means no TPE from the Nash deal, and as I wrote yesterday it also means the Suns have to stay "under the cap" for the next year, with the only exception being the new "room team exception" of $2.5 * 2 years.

(Of course, there's an "out" to this that the allows the Suns to have their cake and eat it too, if they want to spend even more money this summer. Read on for details.)

(Yes, there's another the way the Suns could conceivably execute these contracts while being "over the cap", which will be explained later, but that's a lot less palatable.)

How is that possible for the Suns to make their own decision on being "over" or "under" the cap, you ask?

It's all about cap holds for free agents. At bare minimum, a team is only "under the cap" if their salaries + the midlevel exception ($5 million) + any outstanding trade exceptions put them over $58.044 million. The Suns are under that threshold, even if you theoretically count an $8.2 million TPE from the Nash deal.

At maximum, though, the Suns COULD call themselves "over the cap" by counting all their free-agent cap holds, which exceed $50 million dollars at this point. But while that gets them the TPE, that precludes the Suns from signing ANY players for more than the MLE ($5 million in first year). There are ways around this (below), but they are not very pretty.

Clearly (to me at least) the Suns have decided that they are "under the cap" this summer, by signing Gordon, Beasley and Dragic to deals starting at more than $5 million the first season.

This means they will have to renounce some free agents. Though Nash and Hill may be off the books that day anyway, via the Lakers, the Suns would also have to renounce Lopez, Brooks, etc at least while the Gordon offer sheet is outstanding. If the Hornets match the offer, the Suns can un-renounce as if nothing happened. But if the Hornets don't match, those guys are gone.

Now there ARE ways to keep the rights to their free agents while also signing Gordon, Dragic, and Beasley to bigger-than-$5-million contracts:
  1. Have Beasley and Dragic wait until the Gordon offer sheet is resolved, before signing with the Suns. This one might work, and allows the Suns to keep moving forward without losing assets.
  2. Work out a sign-and-trade with New Orleans for Gordon in lieu of the offer sheet, sending out some salary to New Orleans to offset the Gordon salary, but it does NOT have to be a matching set of salaries. Both the Suns and Hornets are under the cap. The downside here is that the Suns lose assets.
  3. Work out sign-and-trades with Houston for Dragic and with Minnesota for Beasley. The downside of this is that the Suns lose assets (at the least, a second-rounder in each). This strategy, though, would allow the Suns to declare themselves "over the cap" as long as Minny and Houston are under it, so the sign-and-trades don't have to be matching salaries. If the Suns can do all this and declare themselves "over the cap" then they do get to keep the TPE for future use as well as the MLE for more free agents.
While the third option sounds wonderful, I am skeptical that the Suns would do it.

That strategy gives the Suns more room to spend money this summer (the $8.2 TPE and $5 MLE) in addition to Gordon, Dragic and Beasley and I am not convinced that Sarvers wants to immediately put himself back into potential luxury-tax territory.

It's not a bad idea to give yourself options, and the SnT for all three guys gives you that for sure, but I don't know that the Suns care to use those options this summer.

We'll see.


At this point Eric Gordon’s future is in the hands of Hornets GM Dell Demps, yet that didn’t stop him from continuing to try to talk his way to Phoenix on Thursday in Las Vegas where he...

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