Suns Rumors

Clippers Want First-Rounder From Suns For Beverley

The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley is at the top of the Suns’ list of potential point guards, but the teams haven’t been able to work out a price, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

In a video, Charania says L.A. is asking for a first-rounder in exchange for Beverley, but Phoenix has only been willing to offer second-round picks. Charania calls Beverley a “culture setter” and says the Suns “view him as a guy who could come in and play a very good complementary role to Devin Booker” similar to what he did alongside James Harden in Houston.

Phoenix has been without a starting-caliber point guard since trading Brandon Knight to the Rockets last month. The team has been exploring several options and has apparently focused on Beverley as the best fit.

The Clippers are willing to part with Beverley because they have a crowded backcourt and 15 players with guaranteed contracts. Beverley, whose $5,027,028 deal is non-guaranteed,  received full medical clearance in June after undergoing microfracture and meniscus surgery on his knee last November. He played just 11 games in his first season after being acquired from the Rockets.

The Impact Of Devin Booker's Absence

The Suns have had a tough go of it over the course of the past three seasons. Now that they finally boast an intriguing young core, however, things may have hit a minor snag. Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic wonders if Devin Booker‘s hand injury could spoil Phoenix’s season.

While there’s no guarantee that Booker even misses regular season time recovering from hand surgery, it’s a distinct possibility. In any event, the up-and-coming Suns star will miss training camp and preseason, that could mean it won’t be until part-way through the 2018-19 campaign that he starts building chemistry with vaunted No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

As Gina Mizell of The Athletic writes in a similar piece speculating about the impact Booker’s absence will have, she notes that the Suns could even begin the season without a clear-cut point guard on the roster.

Devin Booker Undergoes Surgery, Out Six Weeks

Suns shooting guard Devin Booker underwent surgery on Monday to repair his broken right hand and will require approximately six weeks to recover, the team announced in a press release.

With Phoenix’s regular-season opener scheduled for October 17 against the Mavericks, Booker is unlikely to be available at the start of the campaign. The second or third week of the schedule is a more reasonable target.

Technically, Booker had fifth metacarpophalangeal joint in his right hand fixed by Dr. Steven Shin in Los Angeles.

Booker initially injured the hand last March, causing him to miss the final 12 games of the 2017/18 season. It’s uncertain why Booker waited until the brink of training camp to get the hand repaired.

Booker, who inked a five-year contract extension this summer for an estimated $158MM, averaged a team-high 24.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 4.7 APG in his third season, though he only played 54 games due to injuries.

Unless they swing a deal before opening night, the Suns will have an unimposing assortment of options at the guard spots until Booker returns. Phoenix has been hunting for a point guard since it dealt Brandon Knight to the Rockets.

The Suns have Elie Okobo, Shaquille Harrison and Isaiah Canaan competing for the point guard job until further notice. Rookie Mikal Bridges, Troy Daniels, Davon Reed and two-way George King are potential fill-ins for Booker at shooting guard.

Devin Booker To Have Surgery On Hand

6:58pm: According to John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, Suns guard Devin Booker will be out indefinitely as he undergoes surgery on his hand.

The Suns, who are said to be on the hunt for guards, will need to address the dearth of playmakers sooner than later if it looks like Booker’s injury could stretch into the regular season.

Suns Considering Beverley, Joseph, Dinwiddie

Some more names have emerged in the Suns’ search for a point guard, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, who reports that the team has targeted the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Pacers’ Cory Joseph and the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie.

Beverley may be expendable in L.A. after the Clippers matched an offer sheet this week for Tyrone Wallace. That move gives the team 17 players with guaranteed contracts and adds to a crowded backcourt that also includes Avery Bradley, Jawun Evans, Milos Teodosic, Sindarius Thornwell, Lou Williams and first-round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson.

Beverley has a non-guaranteed deal that will pay him a little more than $5MM for the upcoming season. The 30-year-old received full medical clearance in June after having microfracture and meniscus surgery on his knee last November. He started all 11 games he appeared in before the injury, posting a 12.2/4.1/2.9 line, and is considered among the NBA’s best defensive point guards.

Joseph, 27, has a $7.9MM expiring contract. One of the league’s best sixth men, he averaged 7.9/3.2/3.2 while playing all 82 games in his first year with the Pacers. However, Indiana has Darren Collison entrenched as its starter and selected Aaron Holiday in the first round of this year’s draft.

Dinwiddie, 25, would come much cheaper at $1.6MM and is also on an expiring contract. He played 80 games for the Nets last season with a 12.6/3.2/6.6 line.

The Suns have been in the market for point guard help since trading Brandon Knight to the Rockets last month. Isaiah Canaan, Shaquille Harrison, De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo are the only options on the current roster.

Anderson's Contract Can Be Traded For Previous Guarantee

Suns forward Ryan Anderson lowered his guaranteed salary to $15.4MM for the final year of his contract in 2019/2020 but it can be traded for the prior fully guaranteed value of $21.4MM, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Anderson agreed to the reduction to facilitate the trade from the Rockets. However, since his contract was signed under the previous CBA, its trade value remains unchanged. The Suns will have until July 10, 2019 to decide whether they want to guarantee Anderson’s full salary for the final year of his contract or waive him, in which case they’d still have to pay the reduced guarantee.

Western Notes: Deng, Hill, Mavs, Capela

The Lakers and Luol Deng agreed to a buyout earlier this week, which will allow Los Angeles the ability to offer a top free agent a max contract next offseason. Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the final figure on what Deng agreed to give up in the agreement came out to $7.3MM, slightly less than what was previously reported.

The Lakers are projected to have approximately $38MM in cap space next offseason, enough to be a major player in the market. While we wait to see if the team makes any other moves, let’s check out some notes from their rivals in the Western Conference:

  • The Suns are not interested in George Hill, Ashish Mathur of Amico Hoops reports. Phoenix traded away Brandon Knight over the weekend and has made inquiries on a few veteran options.
  • The Mavericks lost Doug McDermott in free agency, but Ryan Broekhoff, who signed a multiyear, minimum-salary deal with Dallas, may be a suitable replacement for the former first-round pick, Eddie Sefko of Sports Day writes. The Mavericks need all the shooters they can get, Sefko adds, so Broekhoff may find himself getting some playing time as the season goes along.
  • The Rockets and Clint Capela took some time to arrive at their five-year, $80MM+ deal but many of the team’s prominent members never doubted that the big man would return, as they tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.  “Oh, we’re not worried about stuff like that,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said of Capela possible slipping away. When James Harden was asked if he was concerned about Capela leaving, he replied “Nah.”

Suns Notes: Bridges, Point Guards, Melton

Mikal Bridges has the ability to immediately contribute for the Suns but the decision to trade up to the No. 10 spot was all about the future, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes. Bridges’ combination of top 3-point shooting and elite length make him a perfect long-term fit next to Devin Booker.

In the best-case scenario for the Suns, Bridges can be a J.J. Redick/Kyle Korver-type of shooter on one side of the court without being a liability on the defensive end, Tjarks adds. The scribe, noting that Bridges defended all five positions at times while playing at Villanova, envisions the wing finding success at the next level.

Here’s more from Phoenix:

  • Tjarks wonders (same piece) if the Suns will experiment with Booker this season by playing him at point guard. Phoenix doesn’t have an experienced point guard on the team, though it has the assets to make another trade should it look for more experience at the position.
  • Dan Favale of NBA Math wonders if the Suns will make a deal for a point guard, as he discusses on the Hardwood Knocks podcast. Favale speculates that George Hill or Kemba Walker could be possibilities while mentioning that neither the Hornets nor Cavs appear to be in full rebuilding mode, so acquiring one of the two veterans could be tough to pull off at this point.
  • De’Anthony Melton, who was sent to Phoenix in the Ryan Anderson trade, remains unsigned and Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors recently examined what kind of deal the Suns could offer the 2018 second-round pick. Phoenix can sign him to a contract that lasts more than two years, but it would require the team to make another move that opens up cap space.

Rozier, Dinwiddie Could Be Among Trade Targets

The Celtics’ Terry Rozier and the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie are two of the logical trade targets for the Suns in their search for a point guard, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Rozier is a solid two-way player coming off a career year but the Suns would likely have to offer a package that included an unprotected first-rounder to catch Boston’s attention. A trade for Dinwiddie would be more plausible and he’d be a good fit with Phoenix considering his size, perimeter shooting and pick-and-roll prowess, Urbina continues. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Cavaliers’ George Hill and the Hornets’ Kemba Walker are some of the other names Urbina throws out as potential targets. The Suns are searching for a starting point guard after trading away Brandon Knight to the Rockets last week.

Suns’ Contract Options For De’Anthony Melton

The Suns acquired Ryan Anderson, a veteran stretch four they like, in their trade with the Rockets last week, but the prize of the deal looks to be rookie guard De’Anthony Melton. Melton was highly regarded by several draft experts and flashed his NBA potential in Las Vegas in July with a strong Summer League performance.

However, Melton remains unsigned, meaning the Suns will have to lock him up to an NBA contract now that they’ve traded for him. And because Melton was a second-round pick, he’s not subject to any sort of rookie scale — Phoenix will have to use cap room or an exception to sign him.

NBA teams have increasingly used either cap space or the mid-level exception to sign these second-round picks, since doing so allows clubs to offer three- or four-year contracts to those players. Nearly all of this year’s second-rounders have signed for at least three years, with only a small handful of exceptions, such as Jevon Carter of the Grizzlies and Alize Johnson of the Pacers.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

The Suns’ options for signing Melton are somewhat limited though, since the team has used up its cap room, going over the cap as part of that trade with Houston. Here are Phoenix’s potential avenues for signing Melton:

Minimum salary exception:

The minimum salary exception can be used by any team at virtually any time. However, the exception limits contract offers to two years and – of course – the minimum salary.

Going this route would put Melton on track to reach restricted free agency in 2020, at which point the Suns could match any offer and the Arenas provision would limit other teams’ ability to do a huge offer sheet. This is how the Grizzlies signed Carter.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world to only offer Melton two years, but there’s a chance he’d hit free agency just as he’s starting to hit his stride.

Room exception:

Like the minimum salary exception, the room exception can’t be used for contract offers exceeding two years. The difference is that the Suns could offer more money with the room exception, going all the way up to $4.449MM in year one.

It’s possible that the Suns will go this route, but there’s little incentive to do so. A guaranteed two-year, minimum-salary contract is already a solid outcome for the No. 46 overall pick, so if Phoenix makes a two-year offer, I’d expect the club to stick to the minimum salary exception.

Creating cap space:

Having used cap room this offseason, the Suns have forfeited their right to the full mid-level exception, meaning the only way they can offer Melton more than two years is to do so with cap space. Right now, Phoenix is over the cap, but there are a couple ways the team could sneak back under…

(Note: We’re assuming Isaiah Canaan‘s non-guaranteed deal is a summer contract that doesn’t currently count against the cap. If that’s not the case, he would need to be waived as part of most of the plans outlined below.)

  • Waiving Shaquille Harrison and Richaun Holmes: Both Harrison and Holmes are on non-guaranteed salaries, so the Suns could clear their cap hits from the books by waiving them, creating enough room to sign Melton. The Suns could subsequently go back over the cap by re-signing Harrison and Holmes to new minimum deals, if they want to. This is risky though. Both players would be prime candidates to be claimed off waivers, and the Suns probably won’t want to lose them just to get Melton an extra year or two.
  • Buying out Darrell Arthur or Tyson Chandler: Of the two veteran big men, Arthur looks to be the more likely buyout candidate. If he’s willing to give up the equivalent of his minimum salary, the Suns could reduce his cap hit by nearly $2.4MM, opening about $1.45MM in cap space, more than enough for Melton. Arthur would have to be motivated to get out of Phoenix and would probably need to have a new destination lined up in order to agree to a buyout though.
  • Making a trade that cuts costs: The Suns are said to be in the market for a point guard after sending Brandon Knight to Houston. If they could find a way to make a deal that also reduces their team salary by $2MM or so, it’d be an ideal outcome, allowing them to upgrade their point guard spot while also creating the cap room necessary to offer Melton a longer contract. This would require a willing trade partner and the right sort of salaries though, making it the trickiest of these options.

It may ultimately not matter much whether Melton signs a two- or three-year deal with the Suns. But if the club makes a roster move in the near future that looks designed to trim team salary, Melton’s first NBA contract is probably the motivating factor.