So where are we now?

First, let me get this off my chest: I am more upset about the Warrick signing than I am about Amare leaving. It was time for Amare to leave. I just wanted a little something for the trouble. And Warrick isn't a bad deal. The contract is solid for his skillset and a year ago, I thought he'd be an okay injury-fill-in for Amare while the man recovered from the eye thing.  

It's the timing that bothers me. Warrick, or a guy like him, will be available in late July or August. In the meantime, why not have some patience and exhaust all possible avenues for sign-and-trade with Amare's cap space? It is still entirely possible that the NY thing falls through. There are still four other teams with max cap space, biting their nails over LBJ/Wade/Bosh decisions and crapping their pants over all three going to one or two teams. Then what? It's entirely possible that Miami is left holding the bag (of cash), or New Jersey after the music stops, and suddenly Amare's getting offered $130 mil and the Suns are being showered with draft picks for the trouble. Sure, that might not have happened, but why not wait a WEEK to find out?!?! A week! I mean, damn, we still have three months till training camp! Ugh.

But anyway, I digress. We have a solid Plan E on the roster in Warrick. And in three months, I'll be excited about he possibilities of a PF war for minutes among Warrick, Clark, Lawal and Collins.

Let's take a look at where we stand as of today, and what options we have under the CBA.

Here's the roster, with salaries included:

Jason Richardson 14.44
Steve Nash 10.31
Leandro Barbosa   7.10
Channing Frye   5.20 (new contract)
Hakim Warrick   4.00 (new contract)
Grant Hill   3.24
Jared Dudley   2.15
Goran Dragic   1.97
Earl Clark   1.90
Robin Lopez   1.87
Dwayne Jones      .99
Taylor Griffin     .76
Gani Lawal     .00 (no cap hold until signed)
Dwayne Collins     .00 (no cap hold until signed)


Total salaries: $53.93 million

New salary cap (estimated till next week): $56.1 million

That leaves $2 million to spend. Woo. Hoo.

A few things stand out to me. Hakim Warrick is now the 5th highest paid player on the team, at 4 mil. J-Rich is by far our highest paid player, at $14.4 mil. Most guys on the team are underpaid.

And the Suns have assets. Eight guys who are proven rotation players, making $7 million-per-year or less (six of those making $4 mil or less). Particularly, LB, Frye and Warrick are prime trade assets.  

LB is the most tradeable this summer. A good plan would be to assess the roster, and fill in gaps with LB's $7 million. Either straight trade or sign-and-trade with a restricted/unrestricted FA for up to 9 mil (LB + 2 mil remaining under cap).

And then there's Jason Richardson. If there was ever a contract begging for a Pau Gasol moment, it's this one. He is the Suns' golden egg. Huge contract, expiring right before the impending lockout. Next February, several teams are going to want to dump big salaries in anticipation of a harder, lower cap. The only question remaining is who? The Hornets, with Chris Paul? The Nuggets, with Carmelo Anthony? The Sixers, with Andre Iguodala? The list will grow over time. And all this while keeping the Suns at/under the cap, which removes Sarver's meddling from major consideration.

(I am intentionally not mentioning Nash here as a trade asset. Some of you want that, but I don't. Nash sells tickets, and Nash/Hill will keep us competitive for 1-2 more years during this transition. Until death do us part, as far as I'm concerned.)

It's time to look forward, folks. The transition has begun in ernest, while Nash and Hill as our cruise directors, entrusted to make life easier along the way and teach these kids how to win before shuffling off into retirement.

All Sarver has to do now is hire a solid GM that can creatively use these assets to mold a new Suns dynasty.

Chris Paul? Carmelo Anthony? Andre Iguodala? The list will grow.


Anyone ready for the next season to start? I'm ready to roll.(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

More photos » Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

Anyone ready for the next season to start? I'm ready to roll.(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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It would probably best to wait and think things through before wondering aloud, but I have little patience and too many questions that have been keeping me up the past two nights, so I thought I'd dump all this on my pals at BSOTS in an exercise of, well, impatience.

No doubt many of us are asking the same questions and none of us have answers, but we certainly have opinions. So, feel free to take a stab at any of these questions. Here I go:

  •  The Suns have more time to pick up a player or two but not much money to spend. Most of us feel that Nash is the engine that makes the Suns go, but now we're going to see for real how big of a factor Amare was for the Suns. Can the Suns replicate their WC Finals appearance next season without him? 
  • Steve Nash will be 37 years old next season. The nagging back problems have caused him to miss some games, but he is still one of the top PGs in the league. Can Steve Nash help make Hakim Warrick into a 20 ppg guy? 
  • I used to witness Amare pick up 4 or 5 rebounds a game and play like he didn't care too much about winning. I'd be ready to criticize the crap out of him and then I'd look at the box score at the end of the game, and he'd have 25 points. Obviously that 20+ppg needs to come from somewhere. Can Hakim Warrick pick that up in the Suns system? Which leads me to the next question:
  • Will other Suns step up now that there's no Amare to feed the rock to? Will Nash be forced to score more in order for the Suns to win? You get where I'm going ... who will pick up the scoring slack, if anyone?
  • Does Amare's exit make Leandro Barbosa more expendable or more important? We're talking offense here obviously, and we all know LB can put up points in a hurry. Of course, now that he's healthy it may be best to get rid of his contract, susceptibility to injury, and overall one dimensional skill set, but the Suns wouldn't exactly be selling high.
  • Where does Earl Clark fit in the mix? I know how Steve Kerr felt about Clark, but Kerr's gone. Will Clark platoon with Warrick at PF? Can he play well enough to platoon at PF? Is he a PF? Now that I think about it, he's probably going to be put on the spot from the get-go. He's not a rookie anymore, and he's going to get a shot to prove himself. Will he press and disappoint? Will he not press and disappoint?
  • How well did the Suns draft? Gani Lawal is supposedly "raw," and many think Dwayne Collins won't make the team. Can either of them earn minutes and contribute in their rookie season in place of STAT?
  • Is Taylor Griffin going to admit he's balding and shave his head? 

There are no doubt more questions and no certain answers right now. What did I miss? Feel free to let out your concern and anxiety.

Poll
How Many Games Do The Suns Win Next Season Without Amare?

  1269 votes | Results


It feels kind of weird to think that Amare Stoudemire will not be returning to the Phoenix Suns. Since the first months of this site’s history and seemingly continuing throughout my run at the...

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Let’s start off by saying what Hakim Warrick is not. He is not Amare Stoudemire. He is not a five-time All-Star, he is not an All-NBA-caliber player, he won’t ever face defenses loading...

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and this one could be the last ...

Poll
If Amare leaves, do you blame him for not taking a fair offer from Sarver or blame Sarver for not offering enough to keep him?

  890 votes | Results


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