Even with seemingly little money to spend right now, here are five targets for the Phoenix Suns in 2019 NBA free agency.
The Phoenix Suns had another dismal season in 2018-18, going 19-63 and earning themselves a shot a fair percentage chance at the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft. They wound up with pick No. 6, but they will add yet another good young player to the mix.
Since going 39-43 under Jeff Hornacek in 2014-15, the Suns have not even won 25 games in a season with a winning percentage of .265 over the last four seasons. After the firing of Igor Kokoskov after just one season, the well-regarded Monty Williams is coming is as the new head coach in Phoenix to try ending a playoff drought that extends back to 2010.
The Suns will enter the offseason with little room to really operate, with Tyler Johnson’s $19.2 million player option, a $9.6 million cap hold on restricted free agent Kelly Oubre and a $5.8 million cap hold on the No. 6 pick eating up their cap space. But they could renounce their rights to Oubre, and waive and stretch Johnson. Those moves would leave them with around $31.5 million in cap space (h/t to Hoops Rumors), or enough to add one or two notable pieces in free agency.
Let’s assume the Suns renounce their rights Oubre, or more likely waive and stretch (or try to trade) Johnson to get out from under that bloated salary. Trading the underachieving and now slightly off the court troubled Josh Jackson ($7.059 cap hit for next season) would also theoretically free up some space. If the Suns want to push significantly toward the luxury tax threshold for some reason, they do have room to do so.
If the Suns really plan to be active in free agency and go over the cap automatically, these five free agents should be on the radar.
5. Kemba Walker
Signing Walker would clearly be a dream scenario for the Suns. The Charlotte Hornets are expected to make a big push to keep him, he has declared it something of a priority to try to stay there, and suitors with far deeper pockets will be out there ready to make a run at him (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers).
But in a scenario where he’d consider Phoenix, and cause them to alter any other offseason plans, the idea of teaming with Booker and playing for Williams may appeal to Walker.
The Suns will have to push into incredible salary obligation to sign Walker, with max deals sure for both he and Booker. But never say never, and the Suns should be a little interested in instantly having one of the top backcourts in the league.