UNDER CONTRACT: C Marcin Gortat, F-C Channing Frye, F Luis Scola, G Jared Dudley, F Markieff Morris, G Goran Dragic, F Michael Beasley, F Wesley Johnson, G Shannon Brown, F-C Jermaine O’Neal, G Sebastian Telfair, F P.J. Tucker
DRAFT PICKS: G Kendall Marshall
FREE AGENTS: G Michael Redd
MOVES: The Suns did pretty well for a team whose biggest offseason splashes were the departure of the face of the franchise and a maximum offer sheet being matched. They moved on from Steve Nash, stunning the NBA world by trading him to the Lakers – and cashing in nicely. Phoenix got back 2013 and 2015 first-rounders, 2013 and 2014 second-rounders, $3 million and an $8.2 million trade exception, increasing its flexibility. The Suns spent very little time grieving, signing Eric Gordon to an offer sheet worth the maximum $58 million over four years. Gordon badly wanted to play in Phoenix, but New Orleans matched the offer sheet. On the day they traded Nash, the Suns agreed with point guard Goran Dragic on a four-year, $30 million contract and scoring forward Michael Beasley on a three-year, $18 million deal. Immediately after Gordon returned to New Orleans, Phoenix used the amnesty clause on Josh Childress and submitted the winning three-year, $13 million bid on Luis Scola, Houston’s amnesty victim. A big hole at shooting guard was filled by re-signing Shannon Brown, who is coming off the best season of his career and got $7 million over two years. In a three-team deal, the Suns also landed swingman Wesley Johnson and a lottery-protected first-round pick from Minnesota and retiring Brad Miller’s contract from New Orleans. Phoenix bought out Miller’s option for $800,000, netting youth, an extra pick and flexibility. That deal left a hole at center that was filled by the signing of Jermaine O’Neal to a one-year, $1.35 million deal. O’Neal has said he is healthy, and given the recent miracles worked by Phoenix’s training staff on Nash, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill and Michael Redd, this could be a sneaky good signing. The Suns also made an end-of-the-bench signing in P.J. Tucker, who last played in the NBA five years ago but was impressive in summer league play.
TO-DO LIST: The Suns were near the bottom of the league in rebounding differential and percentage last season and sent Brook Lopez and Hakim Warrick to New Orleans in the three-team deal. Scola will help and O’Neal will have to, or Phoenix will be pushed around under the boards. Among power forwards, Kenyon Martin is still out there. Among centers, Chris Andersen is a possibility. Off the court, coach Alvin Gentry is entering the final year of his contract, but there has been no indication from management that he will be getting an extension.
PROJECTION: Can players such as Gortat, Frye and Brown be as good with Dragic rather than Nash delivering the ball? Phoenix is not a bad team but may not have enough to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference. However, its rebuilding plan is well under way, and it should be competitive with a potential lineup of Scola-Beasley-Gortat-Dragic-Dudley. The Suns have loads of draft picks, no overbearing contracts and a handful of good, young players. If some of them blossom, the Suns could be a huge factor in the West sooner rather than later.
(RELATED: What grade did the Suns get?)
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