Many have forgotten, and those who haven't have simply discounted, that the Suns drafted Alex Len with the 5th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. One might think the Suns just had an "oh yeah!" moment themselves yesterday and called Len to finally ink him to his pre-negotiated rookie contract.
"Whoops, sorry Alex," they might have said. "With all the hubbub about Archie Goodwin and the complete failure of your fellow rookies to mention you as a possible ROY candidate, we totally forgot about you. But since you're here and all, please sign your contract."
Of course, that's not how it actually happened.
Rookies have slotted, predetermined contracts per the CBA, so there's no negotating, no giving $50 million to some 19 year old, no holdouts, no bad feelings, and lots of cheap labor. Sounds like a win-win right? For the owners, that is.
But the players agreed to it, too. They were tired of those sniffling college and high school kids making more guaranteed money than most of them would ever see. So the players agreed to rookie-contract slotting as well. With a smile hidden behind a stoic frown.
So that's the NBA.
The Suns signed Len to his contract yesterday. No conspiracies, no worries over Len's injuries. Per Lon Babby, the President of Basketball Operations, they simply waited until it was most convenient.
"[The Suns] just wanted to make sure we didn't need cap space between the 120 percent and cap hold," he said. "Since he wasn't playing no need to rush. With space from the Butler trade, there was no need to wait any longer."
Indeed, within hours of the Butler trade being finalized, Len had signed the contract.
Each team is allowed to pay a rookie their slot number ($2.91 million in year 1 for the 5th overall pick) plus or minus 20%. They had to give the agents SOMETHING to do in order to earn their 3% commission, right?
As it happens, nearly every player gets the +20% (thanks, agents!), including Alex Len. For Len, that's just under an extra $500,000 this year. For the Suns, that's $500K they didn't have on their cap number until Len signed. The Suns cap hold was the 100% number, or $2.91 million.
Before the Butler
dump trade, the Suns were less than $1 million under the cap. After trading Butler, the Suns are now about $6 million under. No more need to hold out that $500K difference on Len's cap hold vs. final contract.
Since the players don't see a dime from the NBA until November, when the regular season starts, it didn't matter when Len signed. Like all rookies, he's either been living off his family or, more likely, living a "loan" from his agent, which will be repaid later.
Hey, remember when Alex Len was strongly considered a #1 overall candidate? That kid just might be worth suiting up.
I have no idea how to embed pictures from instagram, so you'll just have to click the link. I'm not an instagram user, so big thanks to Toon Army Sun for alerting the twitterworld of this post.
So far, this is all we have. No real idea what it means, until someone with actual connections gets an exclusive.
Update from Jared Dudley - they were always great friends. No idea what Jared is saying, but I'll chalk that up to autocorrect.