Suns roster reset: Deadlines and depth chart heading into free agency
Four draft picks later, the Phoenix Suns enter the NBA’s free agency moratorium period on Sunday with a decent bit of money to spend but not a lot of physical roster space to fill.
General manager Ryan McDonough said the Suns could be looking at $15-20 million in cap space. As of now, speculating about the exact number isn’t plausible with four players on non-guaranteed contracts (Tyler Ulis, Alan Williams, Davon Reed and Shaquille Harrison), two free agents eating up that space with cap holds that will reportedly be renounced (Alex Len and Elfrid Payton) and the exact cap figures for the 2018-19 season unreleased.
But because of the basic roster numbers, and because of the versatility and squeeze especially at the forward positions, Phoenix has a lot of decisions to make — even if they only spend money on one or two free agents.
Below is a look at the tentative depth chart to give a visual picture of the roster number-crunching ahead for McDonough and his staff.
Be advised: We can argue all day about who plays what spots, who starts and who fits together.
But the goal is to loosely put together the starters and backups based on career resumes and whether the Suns have shown or indicated long-term commitment to each player. That’s why T.J. Warren, who has the longest contract on the current roster, gets slotted alongside Josh Jackson as starting forwards for the time being.
Plus, debating fit might be wasted time if Phoenix cuts, trades or signs new players over the next week. The point here is, simply, they have to do at least a few of those things before we can start envisioning their identity under first-year coach Igor Kokoskov.
Tentative depth chart
Point guard — Brandon Knight, Elie Okobo, Shaquille Harrison*
Shooting guard — Devin Booker, Troy Daniels, Davon Reed*
Forward — Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, George King (currently unsigned)
Forward — T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley
Center — Deandre Ayton, Tyson Chandler, Alan Williams*
* designates that a player is on a non-guaranteed deal
– Point guard Elfrid Payton, unrestricted if Suns renounce his rights as expected
– Center Alex Len, unrestricted
Free agents (coming off two-way contracts): Alec Peters, Danuel House Jr.
Tentative cap space and exceptions at play
The Suns will reportedly sign free agent forward Trevor Ariza to a one-year, $15 million deal, leaving Phoenix with just $3.7 million in cap space even IF they renounce rights (and thus dump cap holds) to Len and Payton as expected, AND waive all non-guaranteed contracts.
Alan Williams ($5.5 million), Shaq Harrison ($1.5 million) and Davon Reed ($1.4 million) are all non-guaranteed. See below for deadlines on those guarantees.
Exceptions: Non-tax midlevel exception $8.6 million and bi-annual exception ($3.4 million)
Upcoming deadlines/dates of note
Friday, June 29
– Qualifying offer deadline for restricted free agent PG Elfrid Payton ($4.7 million)
Sunday, July 1
– Free agency moratorium begins
Thursday, July 5
– Free agency moratorium ends. Free agents can officially sign.
Friday, July 6
– Alan Williams’ salary of $5.5 million guarantees for 2018-19.
– Davon Reed’s $1.4 million partially-guaranteed deal for 2018-19
Wednesday, August 1
– Shaquille Harrison’s $50,000 guarantees (full $1.4 million guarantees on Jan. 10, 2019)
Deadlines and salaries reported by BasketballInsiders.com.