PHOENIX SUNS

New Suns assistant GM will be ‘tremendous asset’ through limitations

May 21, 2024, 7:25 PM

Suns president of basketball ops and GM James Jones...


The Phoenix Suns will not be going through a regular offseason this summer and innovative thinking is critical.

That is the reality of their salary cap situation making them a team in the second tax apron, which places several restrictions on them. ESPN’s Bobby Marks points toward the importance of new hire Matt Tellem as assistant general manager to help in that department.

“He is probably one of the more creative cap guys around,” Marks told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday.

“A lot of out-of-the-box thinking, certainly that’s probably what’s going to be needed in Phoenix just based on where their finances are,” Marks added. “I think he will be a tremendous asset to that front office there.”

Phoenix’s use of certain mechanics will be hampered, none bigger than being unable to combine multiple players and send them to one team.

“I think it’s the aggregation part,” Marks said of what the largest hurdle is. “I think that’s a challenge. The inability to aggregate contracts sending out.”

Phoenix, for example, would not have been able to execute the Kevin Durant trade from February 2023 since it involved trading multiple players to the Brooklyn Nets. That is a trade with the Brooklyn front office Tellem was a part of, an organization Marks also worked for from 1995-2017. Tellem was involved in the Royce O’Neale three-team trade too, a doozy involving several players that saw O’Neale come back to Phoenix.

The Suns cannot buy draft picks or include cash in a trade. They cannot use any exceptions in free agency beyond the veteran’s minimum or take back more money in a trade when it comes to matching salaries.

Complex solutions from minds in the front office like Tellem will come. Phoenix could look to free up the limitations in a deal by trading a player to a team with cap space, explore multi-team deals or sign-and-trades with free agent Royce O’Neale.

The Suns have been here before. Most of their signings on the minimum last offseason came on one-plus-one deals, including a player option on the second year of the contract to incentivize the player further. They were active in using pick swaps as a way to replenish some of their barren asset chest of second-round picks. More of that will come.

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New Suns assistant GM will be ‘tremendous asset’ through limitations