Suns will have money to spend, but no star will take it
The contracts of Steve Nash, Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter would all be off the books, with their respective departures leaving the team with roughly $29 million in contracts on the books.
With players like Chris Paul, Deron Williams,
Boris Diaw and Dwight Howard set to hit
the free agent market, Summer 2012 would be known as the
Summer of the Suns, where the team would reverse its
fortunes and become a contender, much like it did back in
The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley says this season will be the team's chance to impress that group, and Arizona Sports 620's John Gambadoro tweeted that the Suns could be the only team with enough cap space to sign two marquee free agents next summer.
Sounds great, but I've got three words for you: Not. Gonna. Happen.
Dreaming is free and it sure is nice to imagine Howard sporting a Suns jersey while throwing down lobs from one of the game's best young point guards, however Jared Dudley is more likely to win the NBA's slam dunk contest than the Suns are to sign a young superstar.
It's not that Phoenix would not be willing to pay, because it's unfathomable to think the team would have made a run at the game's elite with lowball offer. The Suns may be cheap, but they're not dumb. Or is it that the Suns may be dumb, but they're not cheap? Hard to remember, but I digress.
While money does indeed talk, a player will look at other factors when choosing between similar offers, and today's stars are more likely to choose the Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Bulls or Heat long before the Suns.
These are not your father's Phoenix Suns, who once had an owner who was so well regarded that players would take less money to play for Jerry Colangelo's team.
Danny Manning, Wayman Tisdale and A.C. Green all took less than market value in order to wear purple and orange, and they helped make the Suns a championship contender. More recently players like Tim Thomas, Jalen Rose and Grant Hill all chose Phoenix because of the chance to rehabilitate their careers and, maybe more importantly, win.
The former isn't really a concern for any player the team would be targeting as a franchise-changing talent, and the latter isn't even really a possibility right now.
As ESPN's John Hollinger points out, the new CBA did little to help the Suns, who are in bad shape if the goal is to contend in the immediate future.
No CBA can undo the damage Sarver has done to the team in the past few years. In an attempt to save money, he gutted one of the most exciting teams in the league and is left with a roster of middling, overpaid players and Steve Nash. Nash is leaving sooner or later and the Suns will have to seriously consider moving him now if they want anything back.
Hollinger goes on to say that it's going to be a frustrating few years for Suns fans, and he's right. Quite frankly, there isn't much going for the team at the moment, and there will be no quick fix via 2012 free agency.
While it's true that many big-time players will be changing addresses in the near future, the majority will be sent packing via trades, an option the Suns did not use with Amare Stoudemire (and rightfully so, they did go to the Western Conference Finals) and thus far refuse to even consider with Steve Nash.
Throughout their history, the Phoenix Suns have done a great job of staying competitive, often times by adding solid free agents to an already impressive roster. The closest they've come to adding a top talent was when they signed Steve Nash in 2004, but even then it wasn't a maximum contract and most thought the team overpaid for the player. The Suns were bidding against only the Mavericks, and simply offered the future MVP more money. Great move, but not at all comparable to what the team is hoping to do in 2012.
Next summer the Suns would be competing against multiple teams for the services of great young players, each of whom would instantly turn a franchise's fortunes around. However, today's stars are fond of joining forces and forming "super teams," a strategy that lends itself to an unbalanced league that, unfortunately, will not lead elite players to the desert.