The sports world was abuzz last week when LeBron James made it known that after four trips to the NBA Finals and two championships with the Miami Heat, he was going home to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers once again.
Even the most ardent critics of James and the move can see a shred of romance in the decision, and LeBron’s first-person essay shared on SI.com certainly added to it.
In Phoenix, things worked in reverse for one player. Valley native Channing Frye opted out of the final year of his contract with the Suns and signed a fat four-year, $32 million deal with the Orlando Magic.
The Suns reportedly had interest in bringing Frye back, but not at the $8 million annual price tag. Some have wondered if the former St. Mary’s High and University of Arizona star should have come back to Phoenix for less money than he got from Orlando.
“The question I always ask is ‘would you take a hometown discount?'” Frye told Burns and Gambo Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “People say that, it’s just absolutely ridiculous. Because the thing that happens is someone takes a discount. Let’s say the market says they’re worth $10 million and they take $5 million. The next day they get traded, so they’re like ‘well dang, why did I take $5 million if you’re just going to trade me?’
“Think about it, our careers are short-lived. So why not go somewhere where you’re going to be extremely appreciated, where you’re going to be part of the future? People just say ‘take a discount,’ why? I’m 31. Why would I do that? I’m not asking for $15 million a year — I’m not crazy. The market dictated what was going on and I took the best deal.”
Frye spent five years in Phoenix including the 2012-13 season when he sat out after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart. Upon his return last season, Frye picked up right where he left off before the ailment was discovered, starting all 82 games and averaging 11.1 points per game while shooting 37 percent from three-point range.
Despite his healthy new contract and his new role with a young team in Orlando, Frye was somewhat surprised that the Suns didn’t do more to keep him in orange and purple.
“A little bit, but you know what? I’m not going to agree with everything that they do and I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “I really love the guys that I played with. I love (head coach) Jeff (Hornacek) and I love the training staff.
“For me, it was about let’s just try to keep this together and let’s kind of work something out and I feel like, in my personal opinion, there were other things they were more worried about. But I’ve got to do what’s best for me, I’ve got to do what’s best for my family. And again, it came down to the fact that (Orlando) is a great situation, it’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Despite his departure, Frye isn’t holding any grudges as he heads east.
“You know, I just wanted to grow with those guys and it just didn’t work out that way,” he said. “Hey, no hard feelings, no bitterness, it’s just an opinion that I have. I’m not going to agree with everything they do, and I don’t think I should, it’s just something that happened and that’s kind of why I’m in Orlando.”