Suns will play waiting game in free agency - East Valley Tribune: News

Suns will play waiting game in free agency

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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 4:57 pm | Updated: 11:03 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Suns added Matt Barnes or Mickael Pietrus to go with Grant Hill at small forward?

What if they fortified the backcourt with Ricky Davis or Eddie House at shooting guard, or maybe Beno Udrih or Anthony Carter at the point?

Does anyone have Gilbert Arenas' phone number?

Well, don't count on any of those guys coming to town, and don't imagine general manager Steve Kerr and assistant GM David Griffin poised by the telephone at 9:01 p.m., in furious pursuit of help when the free-agent negotiating period began Monday night.

The Suns do have interest. They will make calls and inquiries to agents and players today, and they do expect to land one or two free agents over the next month-plus.

But with their noses pressed against the luxury tax the NBA imposes on high-payroll teams, the Suns will be watching the big names go elsewhere and hoping the money runs out across the league before all the players they have targeted are signed.

Hill is using the biennial exception, and while the Suns can use a portion of the mid-level exception to spice up an offer, contracts at or near the minimum will still make them a luxury taxpayer.

"I have a hard time seeing anything shake out for us for at least a few weeks," Kerr said. "We have to wait for some dominoes to fall. There are a lot of teams in tough payroll situations, and the economy isn't good. There are a lot of good players out there, many more than teams that can offer a lot of money."

With draft pick Goran Dragic a long shot to arrive this year, Kerr called a backup point guard his "No. 1 priority" going into July. The Suns not only want to limit Steve Nash to 30-32 minutes a game, they want to rest him for as many as 10 games during the season, such as in back-to-back situations.

That means looking hard at veteran Tyronn Lue, a player with championship experience whom the Suns chased in March before losing out to Dallas. The much-traveled Anthony Johnson is another realistic point possibility - with fingers crossed that Chris Duhon isn't lured elsewhere with a mid-level deal.

And if a backup can't be found in free agency, a trade with a team that has a glut of point guards (Travis Diener in Indiana, Sergio Rodriguez or Marcus Williams in Portland, etc.) could be another route. One of those players could also fill another hole as a strong outside shooter.

After spending the latter part of the season in Phoenix, Gordan Giricek will command some activity on the market and is unlikely to return.

At forward, Jarvis Hayes - who played for new coach Terry Porter with Detroit last season and was buried on the Pistons' bench late in the playoffs - and Quinton Ross, a player the Suns hoped the Los Angeles Clippers would buy out late last season, are possibilities. Both are 27. Hayes and Ross are likely looking for bigger contracts and would see a minimum deal as a last resort.

And while first-round pick Robin Lopez is now penciled in as the backup center, the Suns will want to add another post player and will look at holdovers (Sean Marks, Brian Skinner) and a few others (Michael Ruffin) to add depth.

Only three teams in the league - Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis - have enough money under the expected $59 million salary cap to sign players. Of those three, neither Memphis - which gave away Pau Gasol to the Lakers to save money - nor the notoriously cheap Clippers are likely to spend big money for hired help.

The Suns are one of 11 teams that are either over the luxury-tax threshold or would go over if the mid-level exception were used.

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