The NBA free-agency contact period starts at 9 Arizona time Sunday night, but unrestricted free agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Josh Smith are not on the Suns’ call list.
The Suns are expected to protect their salary-cap space to remain in position for a future trade taking on salary or the signing of a major free agent next year. They would have at least $11 million more of cap space next July if this is Marcin Gortat’s and Shannon Brown’s final Suns seasons. The Suns chose to guarantee Brown’s $3.5 million salary on Saturday rather than waiving him and paying $1.75 million. Besides wanting Brown for goals of a more athletic roster, the savings of waiving Brown would have been mostly or all offset by signing a short-term replacement.
On another Saturday deadline, the Suns waived center Hamed Haddadi, paying him $200,000 rather than letting a $1.4 million salary for 2013-14 become guaranteed.
Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said he does want to upgrade the team’s perimeter shooting and athleticism during free agency, but it likely will not be with any of the top-tier candidates. The Suns have a projected $7 million to $8 million of cap space, depending on salary-cap holds and what the league salary cap is computed to be in a week.
Teams can negotiate with agents and recruit free agents starting Sunday night, but no signings take place until July 10. One of those contacts for Phoenix will be swingman Wes Johnson. He becomes an unrestricted free agent and had hoped to return to Phoenix after averaging 13.4 points on 43 percent shooting when he became a starter for 21 games in March and April.
“I don’t think we’ll be in the game for the big names,” McDonough said. “I think what we’ll do is target some more value guys and see if we can get guys on a contract that is reasonable and fair for a guy who is younger and maybe on the upswing of his career. If we can’t do that, we’ll probably sit back and wait.”
The Suns will show their interest with phone calls Sunday night, but the only free agents pouncing on early offers are maximum-level players. The Suns are more likely to target players who are still available after the first wave of signings.
Last year, the Suns made small forward Michael Beasley their first free-agency target and visit. They came to an agreement with Beasley three days later on a three-year, $18 million deal without competition from other teams. That was a miss in Year 1, but that same day produced a four-year, $34 million deal with point guard Goran Dragic, last season’s standout.
I really liked what we did this 2013 draft day. Len and Goodwin. And the new staffs aboard, though it's still questionable how well they will do, but all is looking positive right now.
Seems like we will be in the run for the lottery next draft day.
Well played because we ain't going anywhere this coming season, keeping the cap free. Hypothetically speaking, if we land a top 3 pick, we could be looking at a Parker or best case, Wiggins. And i can see Len pending out for the Suns. I hope the Suns go big in the Draft and Free agency in 2014. The turning point of the Suns franchise might be round the corner.