Payton is eligible for restricted free agency, but with no plans to re-sign him, the Suns won’t tender Payton a $4.75MM qualifying offer, clearing the way for him to reach unrestricted free agency. As for Len, renouncing the veteran center would clear his $7.96MM cap hold from the Suns’ books, creating additional cap flexibility for the team.
Without trading or releasing any players on guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, the Suns currently project to reach approximately $18MM in cap room. That space should give the team the opportunity to make a competitive offer to one standout free agent, or to make offers to a pair of mid-level type players.
Payton, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, never developed into the sort impact player the Magic hoped for. He was traded to Phoenix in a mid-season deal in 2017/18, and posted 11.8 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 5.3 RPG in 19 starts for his new team. Payton’s inability to make outside shots (.298 career 3PT%) limits his appeal.
Len, meanwhile, was a restricted free agent a year ago and signed his one-year qualifying offer with the Suns, putting himself in line for unrestricted free agency this summer. The 25-year-old, who averaged 8.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 2017/18, has long been expected to leave Phoenix — he said back in March that he’d “probably” end up with another team, and was looking forward to choosing his NBA home for the first time in his career.