One team that’s always ambitious in free agency but ends up empty handed is the Phoenix Suns. Their plan for this summer? Re-Sign Brandon Knight, possibly trade Eric Bledsoe while going after both Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Suns might be the best example of a team trying to swing for the fences while hoping not to drown in mediocrity. They’ve narrowly missed the postseason two years in a row. In 2014 it came with no expectations, and instead of tanking, Jeff Hornacek team probably came close one Bledsoe injury away from making the postseason for the first time since Steve Nash left town.
Last year was a little different. They started well, kinda fell off, came back, and then tore the team apart after Goran Dragic told them he plans to ask for a max deal, and probably not with them. He got traded and the Suns slipped away behind the Thunder and the Pelicans, not ending the season with the same sense of optimism they had a year before.
Brandon Knight was traded to the team from the Milwaukee Bucks and struggled before an injury hit him, taking him out from the late stages of the season. Despite not impressing in 11 games for Phoenix, the Suns intend to make Knight a five-year, $80 million offer. He’s a restricted free agent, but they don’t want the same kind of trouble they had with Bledsoe last year, although that ended well; Bledsoe signed a five-year deal worth $70 million.
And what about Bledsoe? If Knight signs, is it going to be more of the two point guard set up we’ve seen in previous seasons? Or perhaps the team’s best player and also highest paid employee ($13.086 million next season) is going to be traded, with the New York Knicks rumored to be interested? Maybe the Suns are tanking in some way? Is Knight actually better than Bledsoe?
The Suns at the moment have $43 million tied up to the salary cap, leaving them with about $24 million in free cap space. Signing Knight to that kind of deal won’t give them the chance to go after a big agent, unless they trade Bledsoe. And then? Well, just like last year, the Suns are hoping someone pays attention to the nice team they’ve been building and all the potential they have, and maybe decide to make the unconventional choice and sign with them.
Last year it was about LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. This year? Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. Love has opted out of his deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will take meeting with other teams although his intention is to re-sign with Cleveland. Aldridge, perhaps the most coveted free agent this summer, is someone everyone seems to prefer to Love, but it’s not quite clear what his intentions are. Don’t count out him staying in Portland after the dust settles, although the likelier destinations seem to be Los Angeles or San Antonio.