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."
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?
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: