Maybe the most surprising contender to emerge this free agency for signing LeBron James are the Phoenix Suns, offering a very young and talented team along with plenty of cap space that allows them not just to sign LeBron James, but also give him a chance to choose another max contract free agent to sign as well: Carmelo Anthony, but also Chris Bosh or wait one year for Kevin Love.
The Suns nearly made the playoffs last season with head coach Jeff Hornacek doing a great job during his first year on the job. Goran Dragic, with or without Eric Bledose, was one of the best point guards in the NBA. The Morris twins, Gerald Green, Alex Len, Miles Plumlee and newly drafted players Tyler Ennis, T.J. Warren and Bogdan Bogdanovich don’t exactly spell championship contender, but with the possible addition of James things could be quite different.
The Suns aren’t high on his list, but their chances are real: James is rumored to be still undecided about his future. He is talking with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade about the financial details of their next contract, with the Heat or somewhere else. Deciding together doesn’t mean they’ll choose a team together, and maybe there’s something that can be offered to break up their perceived loyalty to each other and winning together.
In order to get James and another max contract player (The Suns have just $25.6 million on the salary cap with Bledsoe hitting free agency and Channing Frye opting out), the Suns won’t re-sign Eric Bledsoe, who is looking to make a lot more than the $2.6 million he made last season, and he’ll get a big offer from someone quite easily. But it’s also the option of signing James and giving him the freedom to choose a free agent to pursue according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
It’s really impossible to decipher what James is waiting for. Championship and legacy seem to be the driving forces of his decision: Playing on a team that gives him the best shot of winning now. But money, which wasn’t as much of a concern four years ago when he took a pay cut to land with the Miami Heat, might also be a factor that is suddenly more important than before, giving the Suns an edge over other teams with their flexibility for the next couple of seasons.
The Western Conference is much tougher to succeed through as we’ve seen for a very long time. Somehow, thanks to better front offices, the Western teams always end up with the talent. The Suns aren’t a big name or market in the NBA, but it’s a franchise with consistency and plenty of success in their history when it comes to playoff appearances. It might not be the bigger star magnet in the NBA, but it’s a refreshing option that might be a game changer in this free agency, giving LeBron James even more to think about.