Phoenix Suns

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Phoenix Suns

The Suns added a pair of cornerstone frontcourt pieces in the 2016 draft when they selected Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss in the top eight, then saw backcourt players like Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis take promising steps forward during the season. However, Phoenix’s 2016/17 record (24-58) was virtually the same as 2015/16’s mark (23-59), and Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Tyson Chandler weren’t thrilled to be benched after the trade deadline. Going forward, the Suns will have decisions to make on how to balance their youth movement with playing time for their veterans.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Suns financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Leandro Barbosa ($3,500,000) — Partial guarantee. Guaranteed portion noted above.1
  • Elijah Millsap ($1,524,305)
  • Derrick Jones ($1,312,611)
  • Total: $6,336,916

Restricted Free Agents

  • Alex Len ($4,187,598 qualifying offer / $12,059,053 cap hold)
  • Alan Williams ($1,671,382 qualifying offer / $1,671,382 cap hold)
  • Total: $13,730,435

Cap Holds

  • No. 4 overall pick ($5,090,040)
  • Ronnie Price ($1,471,382)
  • Total: $6,561,422

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $28,332,478

  • The Suns have nine players on fully guaranteed contracts. If they were to waive their non-guaranteed players and renounce all their free agents, they’d also have to account for cap holds for their first-round pick and two empty roster spots, creating a total team salary of $72,667,522. That would be enough room to make a play for a maximum-salary restricted free agent, but not enough to fit a max contract for a veteran with seven or more years of NBA experience.

Footnotes:

  1. Barbosa’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 3

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Hoops Links Vol. 5: Shirley Temple Lies, Milkshake Theft, More

Welcome to the fifth installment of Hoops Links, where we round up our favorite content from around the NBA blogosphere and shine a light on it here. Every week we set out to feature entertaining, original content powered by the blogging community.

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If you want to hit us up with a link in the future, make sure to drop me a line on Twitter (@AustinKent) or even just email HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. Remember, we want to be intrigued and captivated. It also helps if the content is relatively fresh (considering we publish on Thursdays).

Without further ado…


With a roster full of young players and a negligible chance of winning a meaningful amount of ball games, the Suns made the decision with months remaining in the season to tank unabashedly. After Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, in which Phoenix dropped from a projected No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed, Adam Maynes of Valley of the Suns wrote a spirited column suggesting that the organization got what it deserved.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Angry Earl Watsons
Author: Adam Maynes – @Adam4America
Link: Phoenix Suns tank fail


Joel Embiid verticalWe’re all happy to buy into the quirky Joel Embiid narrative whenever the goofy big man does something like sip a Shirley Temple on live television. But what if we’re living a lie? Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers revealed that the pink beverage at Embiid’s side during the Draft Lottery was little more than a prop.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Red Pills
Author: Kyle Neubeck – @KyleNeubeck
Link: Joel Embiid’s Shirley Temple prop


Are the Bulls less likely to deal Jimmy Butler to the Celtics now that Boston has landed the No. 1 pick in the draft? Vijay Vemu of Blog A Bull suggests as much, writing that Danny Ainge took a risk holding onto the pick at the deadline rather than going the safe route and dealing for an established star.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Fortunate Gambles
Author: Vijay Vemu – @VJVemu
Link: Jimmy Butler to Celtics less likely


The Hawks could have done more to involve Dwight Howard in their offense, Da’Vonte Hughes of Soaring Down South writes, suggesting that the big man had reason to be upset with how he was utilized during his first season Atlanta.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Neglected Supermen
Author: Da’Vonte Hughes – @CookieByNature
Link: Dwight Howard non-option for Hawks


Did you forget that Joel Anthony was still in the NBA? You aren’t alone. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie noticed the big man’s name trending on Twitter and discovered that people all around the world were shocked to see the veteran big man suit up in the Spurs‘ blowout loss Wednesday.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Two-Time NBA Champions
Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Link: Joel Anthony trends on Twitter


There are similarities between Jimmy Butler and Stanley Johnson, including underwhelming freshman and sophomore seasons, says Luke Wolthuis of Piston Powered. Could Johnson, a well-built two-way forward, make a leap similar to that of Butler’s in Year 3?

Rating: 7 out of 10 Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Luke Wolthuis – @WolthuisLuke
Link: Stanley Johnson, Jimmy Butler comparison


Harrison Barnes verticalAlthough he may not win the award, Harrison Barnes deserves a spot in the Most Improved Player conversation, Sam Guertler of Mavs Moneyball suggests. The forward’s offensive game improved dramatically in his first year as a targeted weapon in Dallas, without any compromise in efficiency.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Additional Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Sam Guertler – @SamGuertler
Link: Harrison Barnes Most Improved Player


It takes a delicate balance of usefulness and expendability for a player to suit up for three different franchises in one season. This year, Ersan Ilyasova dressed for the Thunder, Sixers, and Hawks, and still managed to set a new career high for points in a season. Miles Wray of The Step Back took a good long look at how the season stands up historically.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Bonus Points For Playing For Two Altogether Different Teams Last Year
Author: Miles Wray – @MilesWray
Link: NBA players who play for three teams in one season


It was hard to evaluate the first season in the NBA for Jakob Poeltl, a lottery pick on a reigning Eastern Conference Finals squad, but Brian Boake set out to do so anyway for Raptors Rapture. In Poeltl, the Raptors have a cheap, malleable option to audition as their Stretch 5 of the Future.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Teenage Mutant Ninjas
Author: Brian Boake – @NewmarketBrian
Link: Jakob Poeltl’s future with Raptors


Over the years, Gregg Popovich has simply owned Mike D’Antoni in the NBA playoffs, so much so that the J.R. Wilco over at Pounding the Rock had a particularly specific video commissioned just to drive home the point.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Academy Award-Winning Method Actors
Author: J.R. Wilco – @JRWilco
Link: Gregg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni History

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Plenty Of Good Options For Phoenix At No. 4

  • The Suns were among the losers in Tuesday’s lottery, but they still have plenty of attractive draft options, according to Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix entered the night with the second-best shot at a No. 1 pick, but slid to fourth as the Lakers and Sixers both moved up. Haller states that Suns fans can console themselves with the possible addition of Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac. Opting for Fox, Haller notes, would probably make Eric Bledsoe expendable in a trade.

Mock Drafts Forecast Jackson, Tatum For Suns

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Results

The Celtics will pick first overall in the 2017 NBA draft, having won Tuesday night’s lottery one night after they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The C’s, who exercised their rights to swap with the Nets, entered the lottery with the best odds (25.0%) to land that No. 1 overall pick.

The Lakers were the other big winners in the lottery, moving up to No. 2, ensuring that they’ll keep both this year’s pick and 2019’s first-rounder. Had Los Angeles’ pick fallen outside of the top three, it would have been sent to the Sixers, and the Lakers would’ve owed their unprotected 2019 first-rounder to Orlando. Instead, the Lakers will keep this year’s pick and 2019’s, and will send Philadelphia their unprotected 2018 first-round selection.

The Kings also moved up into the top three, but the Sixers will acquire that pick, exercising their right to swap with Sacramento. The Kings will pick at No. 5, which is where Philadelphia would have selected. Sacramento will also land the Pelicans’ selection at No. 10. That New Orleans selection was acquired by the Kings in February’s DeMarcus Cousins trade and was top-three protected.

The Suns are the night’s biggest losers, having moved from No. 2 in the lottery standings down to No. 4 overall. The Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks each moved down one spot as well.

Here’s the full lottery order for the 2017 NBA draft:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (swapped with Kings)
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Sacramento Kings (swapped with Sixers)
  6. Orlando Magic
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Dallas Mavericks
  10. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Detroit Pistons
  13. Denver Nuggets
  14. Miami Heat

Tonight’s lottery results are fascinating on a number of levels, but particularly so for two of the NBA’s most-storied franchises, the Celtics and Lakers. Boston is in position to either pick a player like point guard Markelle Fultz, considered by draft experts to be a future star, or to dangle that No. 1 overall pick in a trade for an established veteran star next month. The Celtics are coming off a season in which they earned the top seed in the East, and they also own the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick in 2018, so the franchise is extremely well-positioned for the future.

As for the Lakers, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief after hanging onto their 2017 first-rounder, and they’re in position to create a union that has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is widely viewed as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft, and he and his father LaVar have made no secret of the fact that Lonzo wants to play for the Lakers. Tonight’s lottery results make that a very real possibility.

The Kings are another winner tonight, having moved up from No. 8 to No. 5 and having also held onto the Pelicans’ pick at No. 10. Sacramento will be in a great position to pick two cornerstone pieces to kickstart the club’s rebuilding process.

NBA Confirms Lottery Reps, Will Announce All-NBA Teams On Thursday

The NBA confirmed each team’s representatives today for this year’s draft lottery, which will take place on Tuesday night. As confirmed by the league (via Twitter), here are this year’s reps for lottery teams:

  1. Boston Celtics: Wyc Grousbeck (owner)
  2. Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker
  3. Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson (president of basketball operations)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid
  5. Orlando Magic: Frank Vogel (head coach)
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins
  7. New York Knicks: Walt Frazier (MSG Network broadcaster)
  8. Sacramento Kings: Dave Joerger (head coach)
  9. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley (assistant VP of basketball operations)
  10. New Orleans Pelicans: Alvin Gentry (head coach)
  11. Charlotte Hornets: Rich Cho (GM)
  12. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Bower (GM)
  13. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris
  14. Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning (VP of player programs)

Additionally, the NBA also announced that it will reveal several award winners and award finalists later this week. The league will unveil its three All-NBA teams on Thursday. Then, prior to the Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday, the NBA will name its three finalists for each major award: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, and Coach of the Year.

Those individual awards won’t be officially announced until June 26, during the NBA’s inaugural awards broadcast on TNT. However, the All-NBA announcement on Thursday will be an intriguing one. A team’s ability to offer a player a more lucrative Designated Veteran Extension hinges on whether or not he earns an All-NBA nod. So teams like the Pacers and Jazz will be watching very closely to see if Paul George and Gordon Hayward earn All-NBA spots and become eligible for those super-max extensions.

Pacific Notes: Leonard, Anthony, Paul

The Suns did not select Kawhi Leonard during the 2011 draft in part because of how he acted during the combine that year, Charles Curtis of USA Today shares. It wasn’t that the MVP candidate was misbehaving or appeared to dismiss the process — it was because Leonard was nervous during interviews. The San Diego State product sweated through his suit and Lance Blanks, who was Phoenix’s GM at the time, apparently took that as a negative indicator.

Phoenix had the No. 13 overall pick and selected Markieff Morris out of Kansas. Leonard went to the Pacers at No. 15 before being dealt to the Spurs for George Hill.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post believes the Clippers have the best shot at landing Carmelo Anthony should the 10-time All-Star waive his no-trade clause and leave New York. Bontemps can’t envision coach/executive Doc Rivers passing up on a chance to acquire Anthony if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Chauncey Billups, who played with the Clippers for two seasons, believes the team is asking Chris Paul to do too much, as Paul Coro of the Los Angeles Times relays.“This isn’t a jab at anyone but they just don’t have enough guys who can make plays late in games,” Billups said. “They depend too much on Chris.” 
  • The Kings front office appears more stable than it has in past season, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee details. The scribe writes that the franchise was previously “viewed as a mess,” but now it has a changed approach, something that should help with securing visits from top prospects. Projected No.1 overall pick Markelle Fultz met with the team on Wednesday.

Tyler Ulis Undergoes Surgery; Suns Interested In Ball

Suns guard Tyler Ulis underwent a surgical procedure on his right ankle, the Suns announced in a press release. The exact nature of Ulis’ injury remains unclear, but the team referred to the surgery as “minor” and said the rookie is expected to return to full basketball activity in about 12 weeks. That would put him on track to be ready to go in August, well before training camp gets underway.

Although Ulis’ overall numbers in his first NBA season were modest – 7.3 PPG and 3.7 APG in 61 contests – he thrived down the stretch with Eric Bledsoe on the bench. Ulis entered the Suns’ starting lineup on March 15, and averaged 16.1 PPG to go along with 8.5 assists in his final 15 games, showing that he deserves a role in the club’s rotation going forward.

  • The Suns head into next week’s draft lottery with a decent chance to land a top-two pick, and if they end up in a position to draft Lonzo Ball, they shouldn’t pass on the UCLA product due to the presence of his father LaVar, Dan Bickley writes in a column for The Arizona Republic. According to Bickley, Phoenix has interest in the younger Ball and views LaVar as a “minor red flag,” but not a deal-breaker.

Draft Notes: Fultz, Swanigan, Allen, Ball

Markelle Fultz will interview with several teams at the combine, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The projected No.1 pick will meet with the Celtics, Suns, Lakers, Sixers, Kings, and Knicks.

You can find the odds that each of those teams has at landing the top pick here. The Kings are a notable inclusion to Fultz’s meetings, as they will hand their selection over to the Sixers via a pick swap should they land the No. 1 slot.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • The Knicks will meet with Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News passes along via Twitter. The big man is the 29th best prospect, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.
  • Jarrett Allen will meet with the Sixers are Thursday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Givony pegs Allen as the 11th best prospect in the draft.
  • Will Lonzo Ball‘s father cause teams to pass on the UCLA product? ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla doesn’t believe so, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News relays. “I doubt that will happen. I really do. The kid seems to be a great kid, an absolute delight to deal with and he was a great teammate. So that’s not going to be a big issue,” Fraschilla said.

Western Notes: Barnes, Onuaku, Noel

The Warriors will face the Jazz in the conference’s semifinals, though Golden State was rooting for the Clippers to beat Utah in the previous round, Chris Haynes of ESPN.com writes. Were the Warriors concerned about the opposition’s slow pace, Gordon Hayward‘s perimeter game, or Rudy Gobert‘s defensive presence? None of the above. They were worried about being bored.

“There’s no nightlife in Utah,” Matt Barnes said. “Obviously, as players, you want to be able to have a little bit of a nightlife, but the main focus is winning games. Me personally, I want to get out there because I want to beat the Clippers. That’s my former team, and my kids are out there. But as far as nightlife, there’s no comparison to nightlife in Utah and L.A.”

Barnes added that he’s not sure what he’ll do during his spare time in Utah.  “I think there’s an Olive Garden out there and then a Benihana. So you’ll definitely be locked in [on the game] all the way,” He said.

The small forward hasn’t played yet in the postseason because of ankle and foot issues, though it appears he’s getting set to play in Game 1 against Utah, according to Golden State’s Twitter feed. Shaun Livingston, who has a hand injury, is considered questionable for the contest.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

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