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ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez: Phoenix is still an attractive place for NBA free agents

LISTEN: Israel Gutierrez, ESPN NBA writer

Last year, it was LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

This year, it’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love.

It’s been no secret around the league that the Suns have tried throughout the years to sign a big name in free agency. Landing one, however, has proven difficult.

ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez, however, still sees Phoenix as a place where players could want to come play.

Gutierrez told Bickley & Marotta of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that in the modern NBA, a roster is more important than where a player would play in landing big names.

“(Phoenix) is a great place to live and a lot of people know it,” Gutierrez said. “That’s not the concern. The franchise’s desire to win I don’t think is a concern either. What makes a great destination is a great superstar already in place.

“You need to have that great superstar to either be drafted by you or make the leap and say, ‘I’m going to plant my flag here in Phoenix. You guys come with me…’ LaMarcus Aldridge is not that guy. Marc Gasol is not that guy.”

Gutierrez used the San Antonio Spurs as an example.

“San Antonio this year is a destination city for NBA free agents because they know not only will they be able to win a championship potentially this year, but possible thereafter for a few more years,” he said.

The Suns have shown that they can land big names in the past, however, including the first-ever unrestricted free agent in Tom Chambers in 1988.

They also built one of the most successful rosters of the 2000s around the signing of free agent Steve Nash in 2004.

“They had (success) for a while there with Steve Nash, and now they just have to reestablish that,” he said.

The NBA free agency period starts Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Arizona time.