It has been a busy offseason for the Phoenix Suns so far. Players have come, players have gone, players have come and gone... It's been a wee bit crazy, to say the least. With all the signings, keeping up with the status of the Suns' salary cap space has not been easy.
That's why we're here. We've got your backs, Bright Siders.
When the offseason began, the Suns had seven players under contract for a total of roughly $32 million. The salary cap for the 2012-13 season is $58.044 million, which means Phoenix had about $26 million to spend on new players (not factoring in cap holds on free agents whose contracts expired on June 30).
Make the jump to see how that money was spent and how much is left.
The Suns began the offseason with 7 players under contract: Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. 13 is the roster minimum, so the Suns had some work to do.
The Suns addressed their hole at point guard (in the wake of Steve Nash's exodus to LA) both in the draft and in free agency. Kendall Marshall was taken with the 13th pick in the NBA Draft, while Goran Dragic committed to the Suns as a free agent.
There was a delay in the signing of Marshall's contract which caused him to miss the Suns' first Summer League game in Vegas, but he has signed it (actually, he's the only player to officially sign with the Suns so far). According to SBN Arizona's Kris Habbas, Marshall should make approximately $1.6 million in his first year.
Goran Dragic agreed to a 4-year deal worth between $30 and $34 million depending on bonuses. The exact terms have not been released, but we're going to assume it starts at $7 million in the first year and goes up from there at 4.5% increases year over year.
The Suns renounced their rights to Aaron Brooks, which takes his $5 million cap hold off the books.
What we have at this moment: $1.6 million (Marshall) + $1.6 million (Telfair) + $854 thousand (Price cap hold) = $4 million
What we will have: $7 million (Dragic) + $1.6 million (Marshall) + $1.6 million (Telfair) = ~$10.2 million.
Jared Dudley and Josh Childress were the only two wing players under contract for next season, so this is obviously the position in most need of help.
The Suns signed RFA Eric Gordon to a max 4-year, $58 million offer sheet, but the Hornets matched. However, he has yet to take a physical with New Orleans, meaning the deal is not officially done. Until that happens, Gordon's contract counts on the Suns' books, meaning we have $13.7 million less to spend. However, it should be resolved in the next day or two.
The Suns also agreed to terms with forward Michael Beasley. Beasley's contract is reportedly for $18 million over three years. Again, the exact terms have not been released but like with Dragic we will assume it starts at $5.75 million and goes up from there.
To make room for some other moves, the Suns waived Josh Childress and used their amnesty clause on him. That means his $6.5 million for this season will not count against the Suns' cap, nor will the rest of his contract in future years (although Suns owner Robert Sarver will still pay Childress every penny of $21 million remaining, less any money he makes from another NBA team in that time).
What we have at this moment: $13.7 million (Gordon) + 4.3 million (Dudley) + $4.2 million (Shannon Brown cap hold) + $854 thousand (Redd cap hold) = $23.1 million
What we will have: $5.8 million (Beasley) + $4.3 million (Dudley) = ~$10.1 million
Four of the Suns' five frontcourt players from the 2011-12 season are under contract for next year as Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick are all set to return.
Backup C Robin Lopez is the only one not under contract. The Suns extended the $4 million qualifying offer to him which made him a restricted free agent and gave the Suns control over his future. However, extending the qualifying offer results in a $7.2 million cap hold against the Suns' cap until they either renounce his rights or he signs a contract.
The Suns' most recent move was claiming the amnestied Luis Scola off of waivers. The Suns' winning bid was $13.5 million over three years (only 440K guaranteed in year 3), with $4.1 million of that being forked over in 2012-13.
What we have at this moment: $7.3 million (Gortat) + $7.2 million (Lopez cap hold) + $6.4 million (Frye) + $4.1 (Scola) + $4 million (Warrick) + $2 million (Morris) = $31 million
What we will have: $7.3 million (Gortat) + $6.4 million (Frye) + $4.1 (Scola) + $4 million (Warrick) + 2 million (Morris) = $23.8 million.
Right now, if you include all the cap holds, the Suns are right at the cap. Yet they were able to make an amnesty claim on Scola, which is only available to teams under the cap. It is possible the Suns have renounced someone's cap hold without making a press release, but that's unknown at this time. Maybe cap holds don't count on amnesty bids.
Phoenix cannot do anything until Gordon passes his physical in New Orleans. This is one of the reasons Beasley and Dragic have not signed yet. To sign these new players, the Suns will have to get rid of the cap holds on Lopez ($7.2) and Brown ($4.2), not to mention Price and Redd ($0.9 million each) which are taking up about $13 million in cap space.
One way for these cap holds to be erased is if the Suns simply renounce the player's rights. Another is if the player signs a new contract, either with the Suns or another team.
Without the cap holds and with Beasley and Dragic signed, the Suns will have $44 million in salary for a 10-man roster of Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Scola, Gortat, Marshall, Telfair, Morris, Frye and Warrick. That means the Suns have about $13 million to fill out the roster with.
The Suns have to sign three more players, and the most glaring need is on the wing. Phoenix currently has only Beasley and Dudley at the SG and SF spots, so they need at least two more players there.
O.J. Mayo is off the table after signing with Dallas, and it appears as if Courtney Lee may be next on the list. The Suns aren't the only team that is interested in Lee though, and it may take a bit more money or a longer-term contract than the Suns would ideally like to give him. Yet the market is drying up, so Lee's price will have to drop. There is a chance the Suns do see him as a starter and rotation player moving forward and are willing to pay him, but I don't know how likely that is.
Another option is re-signing Brown and/or Redd to short-term deals. Shannon Brown probably isn't looking for a one-year deal again, but the Suns can afford to give him a little extra cash in order to maintain flexibility next season. Redd will probably agree to a one-year deal and would be a good fit as a veteran presence if he can continue to round back into shape and find his game.
Other free agents include Brandon Rush, Alonzo Gee and Terrence Williams. There really isn't much left on the shooting guard market. One of the players on the Summer League team (David Lighty?) could be signed as a cheap 13th man as well.
There is also still a chance the Suns aren't done with Robin Lopez.
Childress amnesty likely done to give Suns wiggle room to sign a player w/o rushing to deal with RLopez, who has $7M cap hold.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) July 15, 2012
If Hollinger is right, it means the Suns haven't made up their mind yet on Lopez's future. The frontcourt already has 5 players, so there doesn't seem to be room for him. However, the Suns could re-sign him if they are considering trying to move one of the other bigs. Or perhaps they can try to sign-and-trade him to another team. Or they could simply let him go. At this point. it is hard to tell what the Suns are thinking regarding Lopez, who apparently hasn't received much attention from other teams.
The Suns currently have two players whose contracts expire after the 2012-13 season: Warrick (team option which should be declined) and Telfair. Those two combined will save the Suns roughly $5.6 million in cap space. The remaining eight players will cost about $40 million. Add in two first-round draft picks ($3 million total) and it's $43 million.
If the Suns finish off this year's roster with one-year deals, they could have around $15 million available to spend again next year if the cap stays level at $58.044 million. If the Suns sign a shooting guard to a multi-year deal, it will be a different story.
Again the Suns see one of their team leaders change teams within the division.
Multiple other sources are also confirming that this is happening and that the Clippers are just ironing out the details of the contract.
Grant is the ultimate professional and I'm sure will be a great fit and a good co-leader along side Chris Paul, again much like the Kobe-Nash leadership dynamic it will probably be a good-cop/bad-cop balance. It will be interesting to watch how things pan out.
As much as we all love the one who we here at the Bright Side like to call "BAMF" (guess the acronym), if the Suns are truly dedicated to this rebuilding process it was best that we saw Grant Hill take his talents elsewhere. Yet, I get this funny feeling that we haven't seen the end of Grant Hill in Phoenix - his family loves it here and I can very easily envision Coach Hill making a return to the Valley somewhere down the road.
Good luck Grant - we all wish you the best of health and the best of luck
Grant Hill is going to the Clippers.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) July 17, 2012
In a rather unanticipated move yesterday, we learned that the Phoenix Suns had placed the highest contract bid on Luis Scola-- the recently amnestied ex-Houston Rocket--and would therefore be awarded his rights for the duration of the contract; which in this case is three years.
Usually when an NBA player is signed during free agency, there are plenty of rumors floating around prior to the actual deal happening in which fans come to familiarize themselves with their newest member. However, this wasn't the case with Scola as Phoenix moved quickly and stealthily to claim him off waivers catching many fans and analysts by surprise.
The Suns already had at least three power forwards on the roster prior to this acquisition, so it's no wonder hardly anyone saw this coming. But it did...and perhaps that in and of itself could give us a clue as to what the Suns' plan on doing this season in regards to their rotation and their plans moving forward.
So who exactly is Luis Scola? What can he bring to the Suns, and what can we expect from him this season? Some possible answers to those questions and more after the jump
Luis Alberto Scola is a 6'9", 245 lb, 32 year old power forward originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Scola has played his entire NBA career with the Houston Rockets after initially being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 56th pick in the 2002 draft. Scola was originally left to continue developing overseas in the Euro League with Baskonia until 2005 when the Spurs tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a buyout on his contract. The Spurs eventually gave up and traded his rights to the Rockets in 2007 who were finally able to resolve the contract and bring him to Houston as a 27 year old rookie for the 2007-2008 season.
Since then, Scola has had a very productive, successful career in the NBA. He is known for his relentless hustle, crafty style of play, and unique skill-set. Scola has the ability to stretch the defense by knocking down jump shots, and can also bang inside to score down low by using his excellent footwork/fundamentals and hard-nosed style of play.
Here are Scola's stats throughout his five year NBA career:
Looking at these stats you can see that Scola has been fairly consistent in what he does for his team. There's nothing flashy about Scola, and he doesn't particularly excel in any one area, but he is a very effective starting-caliber player who the Suns can rely on to help them on both ends of the court.
Scola was a fan favorite in Houston because of his hard play and toughness, and those are traits the Suns' team is certainly looking for. Not to mention, Scola built up a great repoire with Goran Dragic while in Houston together, so this should help both of them make a smooth transition.
Scola seemed excited about the opportunity to play for Phoenix, if not a little sad to leave the only NBA team he's never known in the Rockets behind. Here's what he had to say on Twitter:
Now I'm a Sun, let's see what I can do for them :) I'm very excited.— Luis Scola (@LScola4) July 16, 2012
Scola was amnestied by the Rockets to clear his three-year/$21 million contract off the books so they could make a run at Dwight Howard. There's little question that the Suns got a great deal by acquiring a productive, proven starter at power forward for only $4.1 million for the first year, $4.5 million the second year, and $4.9 million with only $440,000 guaranteed in the third year. Now that's a great value!
But what does this say about the other power forwards the Suns currently have on the roster, and the direction the Suns are moving in?
Two words: Flexibility and versatility.
This doesn't mean that all of these players will actually play the four on a consistent basis; many of these players will probably see time primarily at a different position...But that's actually the point.
Of these five players only two of them are strictly power forwards; Morris and Scola.
Acquiring Scola gives the Suns the flexibility to move Frye back to center to relieve Gortat if the Suns can't agree to terms with Robin Lopez. Likewise, Hakim Warrick saw time at small forward last season where he seemed to be a better fit...With the loss of Josh Childress and (most likely) Grant Hill, Warrick could be third on the depth chart at both forward spots now. Beasley will be used primarily as a small forward in the Suns' system but he has also had experience playing power forward...giving the Suns yet another option to use at either forward position
Increasing the Suns' versatility and flexibility seems to be one of the major themes of this off-season, along with getting younger. A look at our roster shows that the majority of our players are able to fill in at multiple positions.
With Scola now in the fold, the recent trend of increased roster versatility will be even more potent. Alvin Gentry will have the freedom to move even more players between different positions depending on match-ups or sudden changes in the line-up.
The Suns may not have the star power of other playoff caliber teams...but they will be more prepared to deal with unforeseen circumstances like injuries, and in keeping their line-up dynamic to maximize their effectiveness against various opponents. It will be up to Gentry to find a way to make it all work.
But what about Markieff Morris? Does signing Scola mean the Suns don't have faith in his ability to start this season? Maybe, maybe not.
It's hard to say what the Suns may be thinking about Morris's progression and readiness to take over the starting role. But what I do know is if Gentry believes Markieff deserves to be the starter, he will be. Signing Scola won't change that at all. Again, it gives the Suns' more flexibility to change the line-ups if need be.
This is why I fully support this signing, and believe it will help make the Suns a better team. The Suns still need to address the shooting guard position, but signing Scola shouldn't affect that either. The Suns were able to amnesty Childress to make up for that. If anything it may make the decision to re-sign Lopez a little tougher, or make it easier to let him walk, depending on how you look at it (more on the salary cap stuff coming soon). But all-in-all, I believe this signing will help the Suns, and it's yet another step in the right direction.