Today, July 10th, marks the official end of the 2012-13 NBA season. This means that from this point onward, the league will operate under stipulations and guidelines enforced for the 2013-14 NBA year. The NBA released the official salary cap number for the season, as well as several other important figures to keep in mind. Let's take a look at these numbers and how they affect the Phoenix Suns (all of the figures described below are explained in detail in Larry Coon's CBA FAQ).

2013-13 Salary Cap Numbers

The salary cap for this league year has been established at $58.679 million, up from last year's figure of $58.044 million. The luxury tax threshold is $71.748 million, meaning that teams with payrolls above that level incur severe financial penalties under the new CBA (such as last year's LA Lakers and the upcoming season's Brooklyn Nets). This figure is unlikely to affect the Suns anytime in the near future.

What is more relevant to this Suns team though, is the salary floor. The 2013-14 salary floor is 90% of the cap, meaning all teams have to have a minimum payroll of $52.811M before the season begins.

As a result of the increased salary cap, the maximum player salaries have also increased. The following figures are the various max salaries a team can pay free agents:

Years in NBA Max Salary as % of Cap Maximum Salary
0-6 25% of cap $13,701,250
7-9 30% of cap $16,441,500
10+ 35% of cap $19,181,750

The average NBA salary for the 2012-13 season was $5.325 million. The estimated average salary for the upcoming season, which is also the "Early Bird" exception amount, is $5.565 million.

The Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (for teams above the cap but below the tax threshold) for 2013-14 will be $5.150 million. The Taxpayer MLE (for teams above the tax apron) will be $3.183 million. The Room MLE (for teams below the cap) will be $2.652 million and the Bi-Annual Exception (a separate exception for teams below the tax apron). All of these exceptions are higher than they were in 2012-13.

2013-14 Phoenix Suns Cap Numbers

So how do the new salary cap figures affect this Suns team? After the Eric Bledsoe trade, the team is currently looking at a 2013-14 payroll of $54,315,564 (not including Diante Garrett) BEFORE draft picks Alex Len, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Oriakhi (who may or may not make the final roster) are signed.

According to the 2013-14 NBA Rookie Salary Scale, Alex Len (#5 overall pick) will have a first year salary of $2,910,600 and Archie Goodwin (#29) will make $887,00. If Alex Oriakhi (#57) makes the team, he will likely earn a minimum salary of $490,180.

With all three rookies' projected pay scales included, the Suns will have a payroll of $58,603,344, which leaves them right at the salary cap line (with only about $75K in cap room).

Pending any trades, the Suns do not have the cap room to pursue any major free agents (nor should they). However, they can use the the Room Exception to sign an additional player. Including Len and Goodwin but not Garrett and Oriakhi, they already have 15 players on the roster so I don't expect them to go above the cap to add another player unless they make a move to send a player or two out first.

Suns' Cap Situation in the Future

Although there is A LOT of time between now and the 2014 offseason, it is important to keep in mind that future financial flexibility (as opposed to right now) is important for the Suns going forward. With the team already at the salary cap line for this season, let's take a look at what cap situation projects to look like next year.

The Suns currently have three expiring contracts on the team: Caron Butler, Marcin Gortat, and Shannon Brown. Markieff and Marcus Morris have team options for the 2014-15 seasons that may or may not be picked up, as does Kendall Marshall. Channing Frye has a 2014-15 player option for for $6.8 million that he will most likely pick up. Michael Beasley's salary of $6.25 million will be non-guaranteed (I think only $3 million is guaranteed).

Another important aspect to consider is Eric Bledsoe's contract. He will be heading into the season on the final year of his rookie deal and will most likely receive an extension from the Suns front office this summer. If he and the Suns can't agree on a deal, he will become a Restricted Free Agent at the end of this season, given that the team extends his Qualifying Offer to him. If I had to guess, I'd say that Bledsoe will enter the season with a contract extension already in hand, one that may be somewhere in the vicinity of the deal Goran Dragic received last summer ($30 million over 4 years).

If the Suns go through the season with the current roster completely untouched, they will only have a guaranteed 2014-15 payroll of $22,168,499 - if they renounce their rights to the Morris brothers, Marshall, and Bledsoe, they will only have Dragic, Scola, and Frye (assuming he picks up his Player Option) on the books, along with the $3 million they will owe Beasley.

However, the likelier scenario involves the Suns moving any combination of Scola, Gortat, and Butler at some point this season, giving Bledsoe a new contract either this summer or next, and perhaps picking up the team options on at least one of the Morris brothers or Marshall. In this case, the Suns will most likely be looking at a 2014-15 payroll of around $30-40 million before signing any draft picks, which would leave them with enough room to be a major player in 2014 free agency (they would have about $20-30 million in cap room). Larry Coon revealed that next year's salary cap is estimated to be a good bit higher at $62.5 million.

Obviously, this is all speculative since these projections are rather premature. As mentioned, anything could happen between now and 2014 - we could shed long-term salary such as Scola or Frye, we could add long-term salary, etc. Nevertheless, the Suns will seemingly have a good deal of cap flexibility in the future, even after they extend Eric Bledsoe. The only major long-term contracts are Dragic (on a very fair contract), Scola (strong candidate to be moved), Frye (his salary may be a bit high but there is always a market for a guy like him - just look at the return Toronto got for Andrea Bargnani), and most likely Bledsoe (remains to be seen).

As it stands, I think the Suns will be well equipped heading into the 2014 offseason with a high draft pick and significant financial flexibility to make strong moves to accelerate the rebuild either next year or the following. Although immediate expectations should be tempered, it's understandably easier for Suns fans to be excited about the future now than it has been in the past couple years.

However, with great cap flexibility comes great responsibility. In the wrong hands, cap room isn't necessarily an asset - we all remember how the team's precious cap space in 2010 was squandered on the likes of Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick. Having said that, the direction of this franchise's future in now in the hands of Ryan McDonough and Lon Babby. Let us see how they handle the Suns' cap situation going forward.

What kind of contract extension do you expect the Suns to give to Eric Bledsoe?

  567 votes | Results


It's official. Hello Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler...Farewell Jared Dudley.

Official Trade Details

  • In a three-team deal, The Phoenix Suns acquired PG/SG Eric Bledsoe and SF Caron Butler from the Los Angeles Clippers, while sending SG/SF Jared Dudley to the Clippers and a 2014 second-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • The second-round pick traded by the Suns is the 2014 pick received by Phoenix from Toronto in the Sebastian Telfair trade in 2013.
  • The Suns traded away Jared Dudley’s $4.25 million salary, and take on Caron Butler’s $8 million contract (expiring after the season) and Eric Bledsoe’s $2.6 million salary.

    Front Office Blurbs

    Suns President Lon Babby:

    "The addition of a very dynamic young player in Eric Bledsoe and an All-Star veteran in Caron Butler is very exciting for the Suns. At the same time, we thank Jared Dudley, a consummate professional in every respect. He takes our best wishes with him to the Clippers."

    Suns GM Ryan McDonough:

    "We are thrilled to add Eric and Caron to the Phoenix Suns. They were both key parts of the Clippers team that set a franchise record for wins last season and we are excited to add their athleticism, shooting, and leadership to our organization."

    What's Next

    There will be an official team introduction and press conference coming tomorrow, July 11th, in which the team will share more about their plans for Bledsoe and Butler this season. Likewise, we will finally get to hear from Head Coach Jeff Hornacek, as well as from the players themselves.

    In addition, the Suns can now begin talks to negotiate a contract extension with Bledsoe, who many assume was traded to Phoenix with a long-term plan in mind. The Suns will likely want to get him signed to a new contract sooner than later, if possible, before his value increases.

    Still, there are plenty of questions that remain to be answered at the moment, but hopefully we will know more after the press conference tomorrow.

    Stay Tuned.


    Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 30

    The free agency moratorium ended on Wednesday and the Phoenix Suns officially announced the trade that sent Jared Dudley to the Los Angeles Clippers in return for point guard Eric Bledsoe and forward...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

    Kendall Marshall has a few things going for him. He is on a very cheap (in NBA terms), guaranteed contract and he is only 21 years old. In college, he was the best passer in the game (possibly in the past decade). His basketball IQ is very high and his court vision is second only to a few.

    But his lack of development of any other NBA-level skills have so far made it tough for Marshall to succeed. He cannot shoot well, doesn't run fast and doesn't use his large frame (for a PG) to his advantage. Worst of all, he has always seemed sure that he can succeed without significantly improving in any of those areas.

    It started in Summer League, then carried over to a lackluster training camp and right into the season, down to the D-League and back to a rebuilding project.

    "I wasn't as consistent as I wanted to be last year," Marshall said after his first practice with new coach Jeff Hornacek in preparation for the Summer League that begins on Saturday. "So if I can become more consistent on the defensive end and make my presence felt offensively getting guys in position to score as well as taking advantage of my own possessions, I think I can have a pretty good season."

    Marshall is a thinking man, but it still seems like he thinks he just needs to "get by" without those vital skills. He thinks about setting up other teammates, and he thinks about how to facilitate that by doing everything else just well enough to be respectable. Even now, he doesn't sound like he's totally ready to be aggressive in getting his own shots.

    "Personally, I just want to get my body where I want it to be," he said of his personal goals this season. "And take advantage of my size. Maybe drop a few pounds and be a threat offensively. That would open up a lot more passing."

    To become a threat offensively, he has to be able to shoot better. And with enough repetitions, Marshall could get his percentages up. But that's not the biggest problem, according to his coach.

    "When you look at it you think it's a terrible shot in terms of his form, but it really isn't," Hornacek said of Marshall's shot. "It's just low and to get that off against a defense is going to be difficult. And that's the thing he has to work on is get it above his head. He's going to have to put the time in. It's an adjustment for him."

    Hornacek was being kind. Marshall also doesn't get any air under his feet on the shot which compounds the problem even further. A slow-motion, set shot with a forehead-level release means Danny DeVito could block that shot right now.

    "That's going to be a gradual thing that he has to work on day in and day out," Hornacek said of the process. "And just try to lift it a little higher. They may let him shoot it now because they don't think he's a great shooter. But I told him as soon as you start making those shots, they're going to guard you and then you're not going to get them off. So you might as well start practicing getting it up higher now. Hopefully he gets there."

    To make matters worse for Marshall, it's not just about shooting or about the competition.

    These Suns are going to run hard, which suits newcomers Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and incumbent Goran Dragic to a "T". With Bledsoe and/or Goodwin running alongside him, Dragic may no longer be the only guy down the court on a breakaway.

    "He wants us to run," Marshall said right off the bat.

    "We'll know if they are in shape or not," the coach said with a chuckle. "We want to push the ball. We're putting a little pressure on them to take it to another level in terms of their intensity and what we're asking them to do offensively and defensively."

    But that's not necessarily Marshall's game.

    "Some of them are used to just walking the ball up the court and not getting in the post quickly," Hornacek said of the summer squad after practice. He was talking of all the returning players, including the Morrii, Marshall and Garrett.

    The new coach is not at a loss for ideas with Marshall though. There's worse things than having a good passer on your team.

    "He's not the type of guy that is gonna fly down the court and penetrate and put pressure on a defense," Hornacek said of Marshall. "But he's a great passer when it gets into drag action, pick and rolls. He can hit those rollers and make the extra passes and those guys can put the pressure on the defense."

    But there's still that matter of being able to shoot. Hornacek has a plan for that too.

    "I did it when I was 22 or 23 years old," he said. "So he should be able to do it too if he puts the time in it. That's going to be a gradual thing that he has to work on and do it day in and day out and just try to lift it a little higher."

    For those Suns fans who don't remember Hornacek, he came to the Suns in 1987 as a rookie combo guard who couldn't shoot straight. His GM, Jerry Colangelo, told him he needed to remake his broken shot. Within a year, Hornacek's shot was pure and he became one of the best shooters in the entire league for the next dozen seasons.

    For his part, Marshall knows he's not on solid ground, and never has been since he was drafted.

    "Personally, I didn't prove that I could be on the court early in the season," Marshall said. "I did get my chance in the second half of the year, but I didn't do as well as I wanted to."

    Regarding the acquisition of Bledsoe, drafting of Goodwin and looming return of Dragic, Marshall said, "I was excited but at the same time, as a competitor, you put your hard hat on and realize it's a tough road ahead. They are great assets to our team, they're going to make us better, so I'm excited about that."

    Marshall is ready to get back on that court this weekend in Summer League.

    "I'm a lot more confident," he said. "I know what I'm walking into. I know what it takes. It's a total different mindset than what I came in with last year."

    Let's hope part of that mindset is to stretch out his shot to get some more height on his release, use his body to muscle into the paint and keep on passing like he knows he can.

    "First of all: win. That's my first goal," he said of Summer League. "The second goal is to prove that I can be a contributor on this team."

    To do that, he's going to have to be a lot better this summer, and from here on out, than he was a year ago. Fortunately for the Suns, Marshall is only 21 years old still. (making him only the third youngest on the team, by the way, thanks to this year's draft)

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