As the NBA free agency signing season winds down, the Phoenix Suns find themselves in a unique position of having a completely full roster capable of making the playoffs while also having the second most cap room in the entire NBA.
Let's take a look at the cap sheet as of this morning, August 3, 2014.
That's 12 guaranteed contracts, plus two more players committed to the team but just not under contract yet.
The total cap space available of $12.25 million includes the cap holds for Eric Bledsoe ($6.57 million) and Tyler Ennis ($1.5 million). Once Bledsoe is signed, the Suns available spending money will go down accordingly.
You may be surprised to see that first round draft pick Tyler Ennis, #18 overall, has not yet signed his rookie contract with the Suns. T.J. Warren was signed in early July, but Ennis still has not been signed.
The delay is not entirely uncommon. #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins just signed his contract a week ago, while the Denver Nuggets just signed the second of their two first round picks, Jusuf Nurkic, three days ago after having signed Gary Harris weeks ago.
So there's likely nothing to see here. However it should be noted that unsigned rookies can be traded immediately, but once they sign a contract they cannot be traded for 30 days. It's possible that GM Ryan McDonough's itchy trigger finger is waiting out the trade market before putting the pen in Ennis' hand.
There is no other advantage to keeping Ennis unsigned. His cap hold and rookie salary are nearly identical.
Teams must spend 90% of the salary cap on player contracts during the 2014-15 season. If the team never reaches that threshold ($56.76 million), the leftover money must be distributed among the signed players at the end of the season.
If Bledsoe is signed for $12 million per year and Ennis signed for $1.5 million, the Suns will be nearly at the minimum threshold.
Last year, the Suns kept $5+ million available all season just to be able to absorb incoming contracts if an ideal trade presented itself. None did.
This year may be more of the same. As long as Bledsoe is unsigned, the Suns still have $12.25 million to use to absorb salaries. After that, the available money will be in the $4-6 million range.
Once such scenario (total conjecture on my part): If Minnesota does dump Kevin Love for prospects (Wiggins and Bennett), the Wolves might decide to also trade C Nikola Pekovic ($12 million per year) away for prospects as well. The Wolves already have Gorgui Dieng waiting in the wings to take Pekovic's place. Maybe the Suns, who need low-post scoring and rebounding, would rather Pekovic over someone like Greg Monroe, who is asking for more salary and could cost more outgoing prospects to obtain. Still that's a huge commitment (4 yrs, $48 million) to a slow center who doesn't quite fit the Suns mold. But that's just one illustration of why to keep salary cap space open.
The Suns now have proven NBA players at every position. Some positions are even a logjam. There's no way Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin and Marcus Morris will get the minutes they've earned through hard work and, in Green and Mook's cases, proven NBA play last year.
The Suns will likely make a trade before the 2014-15 season starts. But now that we've hit August, summer vacations will start taking place before pickup games in September and then preseason in October. McDonough, President Lon Babby, Assistant GM Pat Connolly and Assistant GM Trevor Buckstein all need some time to recharge their batteries. August is traditionally the month in which to do that. Don't expect a lot to happen in August.
By the way, if the Suns don't make any more moves other than signing Bledsoe and Ennis,
BONUS BONUS BONUS
One of the BSotS improvement ideas was to have the latest salary cap numbers somewhere on the home page as something you can always find.
The best we can do is this:
It's right under 'Sections' on the main toolbar, and will link to all the latest salary cap stories like this one. Any time the Suns make a move, we'll post an updated story and get it to the top of this list.