The last big name free agent to sign with the Phoenix Suns left two summers ago.
Since Steve Nash’s departure, Phoenix has seemingly attracted little interest from marquee free agents, who have most often signed with clubs in bigger markets or with more established rosters.
But Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is hopeful that a rejuvenated talent level, complemented by desirable weather and the allure of a Valley lifestyle, will be just the right combination to put another big name in orange in the near future. And he believes history bears witness to the team’s ability to attract such names.
“I think I might disagree with (the) notion that it’s been hard for GMs to get big-time free agents here,” McDonough told Burns and Gambo Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Jerry Colangelo was able to get Tom Chambers and Robert and company, and Jerry — that group got Steve Nash so, you know, there have been some very good players if you look at the Suns relative to other NBA teams, this is a place where people have been able to recruit in the past.”
The Suns were successful in keeping restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe in the Valley during summer-long negotiations in 2014 while also reeling in free agent Isaiah Thomas. But the more transcendent types — Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol and LeBron James, namely — proved more elusive.
“Obviously, we had meetings with some of the top free agents this past summer,” McDonough continued. “We weren’t able to land them, but I think with all of the things the city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona has going for it, we’ll be in the mix when those top free agents come.”
The general manager is confident in the quality of life offered by Phoenix and the surrounding area, but knows that on-court success is the strongest magnet for NBA free agents and he believes that will remain the case in coming summers.
Goran Dragic, who is headed for the open market this summer, remains the Suns’ chief priority, according to McDonough. That’s the case with Gerald Green, too, the GM said. And other names — mostly bigger ones — will join Dragic and Green there.
The names making up the unrestricted free agent market include LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Jeff Green, Al Jefferson, Deandre Jordan, Roy Hibbert, Kevin Love, Paul Millsap, Greg Monroe, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade.
“When free agents are looking at the landscape, they want a nice place to live, they want a nice place to raise a family, but most importantly they want a place where they have a chance to win a championship,” McDonough said. “So if we can field a competitive playoff team that’s young and growing and free agents see that and they respect the way we play — especially when we play against those guys — I think that will certainly help us when they become free agents.”