The Phoenix Suns never saw it coming, nor did their fans. But after Luka Doncic and his pesky cronies pulverized them from the bottom of the second round this year, they now find themselves in their darkest position as a franchise since before their bubble.
Now, the time it takes to endure such an ugly post-season outing differs for everyone. Most fans take a week or two before considering next year, and players usually return to the gym after a few days.
However, there is no rest for CEOs and front offices.
As it stands, the Suns only have nine players under contract for next year. This list includes Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Cameron Johnson and Landry Shamet.
By process of elimination, that leaves Phoenix with the following free agents: Bismack Biyombo, Elfrid Payton, JaVale McGee, Deandre Ayton, Ish Wainright and Aaron Holiday. The bottom three, however, are all restricted free agents, giving the Suns some clout.
Between all these names and their monetary value, James Jones and company certainly have their work cut out for them this summer. With Bridges’ max deal set to go into effect, Shamet’s price tag set to triple and Johnson eligible for an extension, some tough cuts are sure to take place in the Valley of the Sun.
Although this team’s championship window remains open, its fiscal “golden days” have passed, as its young players begin to come out of their rookie contracts and seek more money. With that, these three Suns players will likely become the sacrificial lambs to keep the team fiscally afloat and leave the organization.