What they’re saying: Suns’ 1st hours of free agency get thumbs up
The boxes were ticked quickly.
The Phoenix Suns moved swiftly when the NBA free agency moratorium opened on Monday, re-signing Cam Payne and bringing back star point guard Chris Paul before adding backup center JaVale McGee.
By and large, they got positive reviews for their work.
How Paul’s four years and up to $120 million in salary are structured will say a lot about how the Suns will be financially constrained over the next few seasons, but without knowing the details as of Tuesday, the point is this: The Suns did good in setting themselves up to run it back and have a few more above-minimum salary slots they can potentially use.
Here’s what they’re saying across the internet about the moves made thus far:
There are still avenues for the Suns to mitigate their 2022-23 tax bill and plenty of time to do so. For now, credit Phoenix for doing what it took to retain Paul and remain in contention in the Western Conference.
It’s likely the Suns’ path in the 2022 postseason will be more challenging than the one they faced this year, when each of their West opponents was missing a key starter (Anthony Davis for much of the first round, Jamal Murray in the second round and Kawhi Leonard in the conference finals). Phoenix might also deal with more injuries during the regular season; only the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks lost fewer games to player injury, illness or the health and safety protocols, according to my analysis.
Still, for the Suns to get back to the Finals or one step further, they needed to retain Paul.
Chris Paul re-signs with Phoenix Suns | $120 million over four years
How much is Paul playing this deep into his career at the level we’ve seen the past two years going to sustain? The Suns had to make this signing on every level. And I can’t imagine anybody believes it’s not worth it after what we saw in Phoenix. But if there is a precipitous drop-off in the next year or two, this could be a rough contract for them. However, anything close to the success we saw last season from them makes this a great signing. Suns took the risk of acquiring the big-time veteran to help them win, and then they retained him.
Cameron Payne re-signs with Phoenix Suns | $19 million over three years
Cameron Payne should have received at least the non-tax payer midlevel exception for how he resurrected his career the last year. He went from being a dance partner for Russell Westbrook to being an extremely valuable backup point guard. The idea that the Suns grabbed him for a little over $6 million per season almost feels like they brainwashed him. His generosity is the Suns’ fortune.
JaVale McGee signs with Phoenix Suns | $5 million for one year
The Suns suffered in the NBA Finals by not having enough depth for the interior, so bringing in JaVale McGee to back up Deandre Ayton is a great one-year acquisition.
While on the surface, Paul’s deal looks like it would trigger the “Over-38 Rule,” his specific situation allows for a four-year contract (for a player re-signing at 35 or 36 years old). Given the Suns’ need to reward Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges this offseason with rookie-scale extensions and Devin Booker’s rich deal, Phoenix will be paying luxury taxes starting with the 2022-23 season.
But that’s tomorrow’s problem. The Suns brought back their leader on a rich contract to make sure they have an opportunity to return to the NBA Finals this coming season. Grade: A