While the Suns continue to search for a backup point guard for Steve Nash, the list of viable candidates in the free agent market — one that is a definite seller’s market — dwindled further.
League sources said Phoenix’s latest target, veteran Lindsey Hunter, has decided to stay with Detroit and finish his career as a Piston after agreeing to a two-year, $4 million contract — which is believed to be less than the deal the Suns put on the table. It was the only piece of good news for the Pistons, who lost center Ben Wallace to a $52 million offer from the Chicago Bulls later in the day.
A day after Bobby Jackson gobbled up $17 million from the New Orleans Hornets, the man he will replace, Speedy Claxton, headed for Atlanta and a deal believed to be worth $25 million over four years. Claxton’s arrival will allow ex-Sun Joe Johnson to return full-time to the shooting guard spot with the Hawks.
That leaves names like Jannero Pargo, Chucky Atkins, Darrell Armstrong and last year’s backup guard, Eddie House, on a picked-over list of possible point guards.
The Suns may wait and see if other players are waived later in the summer or swing a trade to address the position.
Phoenix coach and general manager Mike D’Antoni has also said he wants to give Leandro Barbosa another shot at the point, meaning the Suns could go after another shooter like Matt Harpring and move Barbosa from the shooting guard spot he played much of last season. Harpring went into free agency looking for the mid-level exception of $5.4 million, but that asking price might be dropping.
The Suns have invited 18 players to their Vegas Summer League tryouts beginning Wednesday at US Airways Center.
Among that group is Maciej Lampe, who left for New Orleans in January of 2005 as part of the Jim Jackson trade, as well as former Orlando and Indiana forward Britton Johnsen and Jeff Varem, a shooting guard from Washington State who played well for Cleveland in last year’s summer league.
Amaré Stoudemire, guard Romain Sato and Italian League guard Massimo Bulleri are also taking part.