The Suns were not very watchable last year, but there were a few plays that stood out. Most of them initiated by great Dragic passes and finished by nice dunks. A couple Wes Johnson plays in there, and even a Beasley.

But all in all, these were not awesome plays and even the players themselves weren't hooting and hollering afterward. Let's hope this season they're all on the same page and celebrating when things go really well.

Last week, the Phoenix Suns waived forward Michael Beasley after just one tumultuous year in the desert. Beasley arrived in Phoenix last summer with a fairly long, loose leash. Countless missed shots, defensive breakdowns, and fan face-palms later, his leash was much shorter and tighter. After Beasley's latest trouble with the law last month, the writing on the wall was clear. The new front office had no reason to continue their relationship with him and ultimately decided to cut the leash and end their dismal relationship with the troubled forward.

Although the Suns had been expected to waive Michael Beasley for quite some time now, the method in which they cut him surprised many. Instead of waiving him outright or using the stretch provision on the the remaining $9 million on Beasley's contract, the Suns managed to actually save some money after both parties agreed to a buyout of $7 million. Let's take a look at how this move affects the Suns' salary situation moving forward.

Bye-Bye, B-Easy


The above GIF illustrates perfectly encapsulates Suns fans' feelings about Beasley's stay in Phoenix and illustrates one of the few times we were on the same page as Lindsey Hunter.

Looking back on Michael Beasley's career in Phoenix will prove to be a depressing affair. There were few highlights - his performance against the Lakers in Steve Nash's return to Phoenix was a remarkable feat - and countless disappointments. Unfortunately, there were more memorable hairstyles than actual basketball performances in Beasley's Suns career and it could be argued that the most defense he played all year was while defending his "brother" Goran Dragic against Ryan Hollins. However, Beasley does leave the Suns with one parting gift: his buyout saves the team $2 million and adds to their cap space in both this year and next.

Had the Suns waived Beasley outright they would have had to absorb his $6 million 2013-14 salary and would most likely have stretched his $3 million guaranteed 2014-15 salary over the following three years, resulting in cap hits of $1 million each in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. If the Suns waived Beasley before September 1st, they would have spread the $9 million over five years, paying him $1.8 million a year through 2017-18.

Instead, the Suns managed to save some money and decrease these cap hits by shaving $2 million off his remaining $9 million. They now owe Beasley $7 million and will pay that amount through yearly installments.The Suns will pay Beasley $4.67 million this year (down from $6 million) and will spread the remaining $2.33 million over the next three years, resulting in cap hits of approximately $767,000 annually through 2016-17 (instead of $1 million per season).

This begs the question of why Beasley even agreed to leave the $2 million on the table that he was otherwise guaranteed to make. The only reasonable explanation is that the Suns used some sort of leverage to persuade him to agree to a buyout so he could leave the team and try to earn another contract elsewhere. Maybe the team insinuated that they would be willing to keep Beasley on the roster and force him to stay home during this season. Maybe Lon Babby somehow convinced him to forego those extra $2 million so he could get more money upfront ($4.67 million this year) than if they waived him in August (just $1.8 million this year and each of the next four years). Or maybe Beasley just felt bad?

In any case, the Suns managed put some sort of positive spin in even a bad scenario, increasing their immediate and future cap flexibility through a buyout that no one saw coming. A quick look at the team's salary status reveals they're in fantastic shape heading forward.

Phoenix Suns Capology

In last week's capology update, I described the Suns' salary standing after the Caron Butler trade and outlined what the cap situation might look like after Beasley is waived and stretched in my attempt to cover all scenarios. However, the Suns front office is fortunately more creative (and probably more persuasive) than me and introduced a new scenario with the Beasley buyout.

By buying out Beasley, the Suns increased their 2013-14 cap space by $1.33M and now sit $6.572M under the salary cap.

By waiving Beasley in this manner, the Suns increased their 2013-14 cap space by $1.33 million and their salary total now sits at $52.107 million. This leaves the team with $6.572 under the salary cap this year. Moreover, Beasley's lingering salary of approximately $7776,667 per year for the next three years is a mostly negligible figure - it's about as much as a minimum contract for a player with exactly one year of NBA experience.

It should be noted that the Suns have done a remarkable job of maintaining their salary cap flexibility while increasing their asset base and (future) talent collection. This is a highly accomplishment that will be sure to help progress the franchise's rebuilding process. In my first "capology" piece in July, I stated that the Suns should trade Luis Scola ahead of any other player on the roster. Check. In last week's cap update, I (not very boldly) predicted that Michael Beasley would be waived. Check.

The Suns still have 16 guaranteed contracts on the roster so I look for them to cut at least one other player (Malcolm Lee and Ish Smith might be the most likely candidates). Such a move is likely to be made after training camp next month. The other objective I have for the team is much further down the road: trade Marcin Gortat. I don't expect much movement on this platform in the next couple months but I fully expect Gortat to be on another team by February's trade deadline. Although with GM Ryan McDonough at the helm, we should probably expect the unexpected.

The future is bright (side of the sun). And it all starts with flexibility.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Eric Bledsoe was Ryan McDonough's first major acquisition as the Suns' general manager. How does the fiery guard fit into the Phoenix lineup? Let's take a look at the film to find out.

Eric Bledsoe was one of the hottest commodities on the NBA trade market over the last year, and it's not hard to see why when watching his highlights. Calling him explosive is a bit of an understatement. However, highlights only tell part of the story. I wanted to go deeper and get a better idea of who Eric Bledsoe really is as a player. To accomplish this, I watched roughly 500 of his 800 offensive possessions logged on MySynergySports. Let's break his game down.

In typical Jacob fashion, I went way overboard and wrote a ton of words. So I decided to break it down into two parts. In Part I, I'll be examining his play with the ball in his hands. In Part II, I'll be looking at his play in the open court and off the ball.


From 2004 to 2012, Suns fans were treated to one of the best pick-and-roll point guards of all time. Steve Nash was the master. It wasn't just his pinpoint pocket-passing that made him so great though (although it was beautiful to watch). What made him so special was the combination of the passing ability with his savvy and tremendous shooting touch from all over the court. The Suns pick-and-roll was so difficult to defend because there was no way you were going to be ale to take away the pocket pass to the big, the pass to the corner, the drive AND the pull-up jumper. Nash was a complete pick-and-roll point guard that could burn you any way he liked.

That's not Bledsoe. However, Bledsoe does like to run the pick-and-roll a lot. In fact, it was his most common play type at just under 31 percent of his possessions. He was decent but nothing spectacular at 0.75 points per possession.

When Bledsoe comes off the screen and has a clear lane to the basket, he can explode to the rim like few others.


Here, Bledsoe receives the ball on the wing and Lamar Odom comes to set the screen.


Neither Darrell Arthur nor Mike Conley jump out at Bledsoe and in fact, they get in each other's way. That's all Bledsoe needed as he turned the corner with an open lane. Conley has no shot at this point.


None of the other Memphis defenders commit to helping on Bledsoe and so he takes it all the way. Notice where he takes off from ...


... and notice where he lands. Explosion. Also two points and a glimpse of what Bledsoe can do in the pick-and-roll.

Bledsoe also shot a very respectable 39.7 percent from deep last year. His shot improved greatly from his first two seasons in the league. Bledsoe's shot is almost more of a set shot than an actual jumper, but if defenders go under and give him plenty of space, he can knock that shot down.


The defender is already playing way off Bledsoe to begin with, and when Turiaf comes to set the screen, his man stays with him. That means nobody is within three or four feet of Bledsoe.


Bledsoe takes the shot and knocks it down and the defender still isn't even close to in his face. It was a very limited sample size last year, but Bledsoe connected on four of his nine attempts from deep while running the pick-and-roll. If teams go under to cut off the drive, Bledsoe has the capability to make them pay.

That's the good. Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad as well. Bledsoe really doesn't have any sort of in-between game. He doesn't really have a pull-up jumper and his floater is far from reliable at this stage. He also doesn't have the patience or savvy of Nash and gets himself out of control too often. His drives are often reckless and his passes wild.


Here, Turiaf sets a screen for Bledsoe against our beloved Suns. As you can see, there isn't a whole lot of space for him to work with and all the Suns are in help position to guard against the drive.


Bledsoe fails to recognize this, ducks his head and drives anyway. Goran Dragic goes over the screen and chases him from behind, Jared Dudley drops down from the top of the key and Luis Scola steps up to surround Bledsoe and cut off the drive.


With so much pressure, Bledsoe loses control of the ball a little bit...


... and then loses control of his body as he tries to recover and slides out of bounds. This is the kind of reckless play we can expect from Bledsoe. With all the excitement of the highlights comes the bewilderment of lowlights like this one.

One thing you'll notice if you look closely at the screencaps above is that Bledsoe initiated all three of his pick-and-rolls from the wing rather than the top of the key. That is a trend I noticed in watching most of his pick-and-rolls. This is one reason a Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt could work very well together. With those two, the Suns can keep the floor spaced and initiate pick-and-rolls from all over the court rather than just at the top of the key.

At this stage Dragic is still the superior pick-and-roll ball-handler and should initiate the offense on the majority of plays. But when teams start to key in on Dragic, all he needs to do is swing it to Bledsoe an let him go to work from a different angle. It makes the Suns' offense more unpredictable and makes it more difficult to defend.


Bledsoe isn't a bad isolation player. It's not something you'd like to see him doing a whole lot but his 0.77 points per possession ranks 114th overall, which isn't too shabby. Here's an example of what he can do with a mismatch.


Matt Barnes and Bledsoe run a quick pick-and-roll and the Spurs switch it.


Bledsoe recognizes the mismatch and pulls the ball out to the corner to give himself some space.


Bledsoe has a major speed and quickness advantage, and he takes advantage of that to blow by his man. Because of the way the Clippers spaced the floor the help defender was too far away to stop him.


Bledsoe explodes to the rim and throws it down with authority.

That's what Bledsoe can do in isolation situations. He has a quickness and athleticism advantage over most of the guards he plays against, and that's even more true when he can force a switch and go up against a wing or a big. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to use that advantage nearly enough and instead chooses to settle for jumpers, which definitely is not his strength. That's where the low percentage (37.7 percent form the field) comes from.

Bledsoe can be effective in isolation situations if the team can put him in the right spot on the court, keep the floor spaced and get him mismatches. But he's not a guy you want to give the ball to on a consistent basis and tell him to go get a bucket.

Dragic is actually a phenomenal isolation player according to Synergy. He's ranked 20th overall and scores 0.97 points per possession. He only isolated on 11 more plays than Bledsoe did last year despite playing a lot more, so it's not something he looks to do a lot. But adding another exciting ball-handler in Bledsoe should both take some pressure off Dragic and give him more opportunities to attack.

During the Suns magical run to the 2010 Western Conference Finals, the second unit emerged as one of the team's biggest strengths. Leading that charge from the bench was a pair of dynamic guards in a younger Dragic and Leandro Barbosa. Bledsoe lacks the natural scoring ability that made Barbosa the Sixth Man of the Year as a Sun, but he does offer a similar speedy and athletic presence and is much more of a pest defensively.

This backcourt might be under-sized, but there's potential for these two to mesh very well offensively.

Stay tuned to the Bright Side for Part II, coming soon!

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Quick recap of day three where two Suns helped their team go 2-0, while another suffered to an 0-2 hole.

Slovenia 2-0

Goran Dragic led his team in points (17), rebounds (6), assists (7) and steals (2) and made two tough baskets at the end to help Slovenia clinch against a Spain team so good that Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio are backups.

"It was a really tough game for both sides, but we played as a team, we shared the ball when we needed to score, and played tough defence," said Goran Dragic. "We only had six turnovers, which is great in a game like this."

Ukraine 2-0

The Suns newest player, Slava Kravtsov, chipped in 15 and 8 for Ukarine to beat Omri Casspi's Israel.

Poland 0-2

Marcin Gortat, on the other hand, is not having as much fun at Eurobasket as his teammates. He and Maciej Lampe (on one-time Sun in fact) were supposed to dominate the Czech Republic inside, but instead the smallish Czech's used Jan Vesely at the 5 to frustrate Poland with speed and finesses. Jan Vesely had a huge game that Washington fans can only dream about: 23 points, 14 rebounds (7 offensive), and 4 steals.

The Czech Republic stunned Poland in the final seconds. Check out the highlights.

Coming up

Each team has 3 more "pool play" games before the top 3 in each Group advances to the elimination tournament.

As of this writing, Ukraine is winning again (39-30) at halftime.

More from Bright Side Of The Sun:

Goran Dragic scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and led Slovenia in every major statistical category with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists as his team shocked Eurobasket favorite Spain,...

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