Ben Simmons was making $33M. Russell Westbrook was making $40M. James Harden was making $35M. Chris Paul was making $30M. What do they all have in common? Despite being mostly regarded as terrible contracts, all of them found a way to be moved. Each one was a reminder that despite how bad a contract might look and how high that yearly cap hit number might be, no NBA contract is untradeable. Where there's a will there's a way to move even the worst deal.
Or so we thought.
That Chris Haynes tweet tells us that the other 29 teams in the NBA all told the Suns thanks but no thanks when it comes to getting into the Deandre Ayton business. Some may have been out because they are all set at the center position, others may have been out because they didn't have the contracts to match in order to make the money work, and others might just not have wanted to touch this
The issue for the Suns is that when you try and move off money like this, you almost always have to attach a 1st in order to convince a team to take on bad money. Given the fact that they've basically given away all their picks for the next decade, it's no surprise they have to bite the bullet and bring Ayton back. Not only is that going to be an issue pretty quickly in terms of the new CBA and that second apron price, but it's also a huge hit for the Suns when it comes to the hope of using Ayton's salary to maybe bring back multiple pieces at different positions in an effort to help build out their depth. Let's not forget the Suns still have to fill out the majority of their roster
When you look at just their guaranteed money/option guys, the active cap hit is $175M. The Suns also have $41M in cap holds for a total of $216M. The apron number is $182.5M. The Suns still have 7-8 spots to fill on this roster, and if they can't use Ayton's money that leaves them with what, veteran minimums and the tax payer MLE? Coming off a postseason run where it was very clear that the lack of depth was a glaring issue, the Suns have basically doubled down on just saying to hell with depth if the starters just score a ton.
Add in the health history of both Durant and Beal, this is quite the gamble.
It's clear the Suns are going all in from a talent perspective, but think of what we just saw from the Nuggets in the Finals. Huge minutes and plays from Bruce Brown and Christian Braun were a big part of what helped the Nuggets become champs. Unless they already have a bunch of commitments from vets to come on the minimum, I just don't see how any of the issues that ended the Suns season last year when it came to their bench play were addressed.
In the PHX/DEN series, the Suns bench shot 40/26% in their 15 minutes while turning it over 3.4 times per game. What about what you see above tells you this has been fixed? Without the use of Ayton's money, things become a little more difficult for the Sun to round out their roster with players that are actually going to move the needle.
This entire situation also gives us what might be our first untradeable NBA contract. At least for the moment. As Ayton gets closer to his final year and becomes an expiring contract he'll most likely have a market. But for now, it appears that the Suns are truly stuck. Let's also not forget that Beal still has his no trade clause, so you're also stuck with his contract for as long as he decides he wants to be a Sun. What the hell do the Suns do when they can't move either Beal or Ayton? This entire experiment is going to be fascinating to watch, especially if it does not end in a title.