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Suns Must Ask: Beal or No Beal?

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The all-or-nothing mentality that Phoenix Suns owner Matt Ishbia has displayed can be both applauded or disregarded. In his short time as the franchise’s owner, he’s shown the necessary fortitude to make the Suns a title contender.

Now, with Bradley Beal being up for grabs, the Suns front office find themselves in the same predicament as they did with Kevin Durant. What, if available, would be enough to suffice for obtaining Beal?

Breaking: Suns 1 of 2 Finalists for Bradley Beal

The Athletic’s Sham Charania reported on Saturday that the Suns along with the Miami Heat were two of Beal’s preferred destinations. Beal, 29, has a no-trade clause on his five-year, $251 million deal with the Washington Wizards.

While Beal’s game certainly would unlock even more dimensions for Phoenix, the financial implications could be a burden.

As it stands, the Suns have only one of two major players for a Beal trade. Chris Paul is already weighing in the balance of returning to Phoenix. On top of that, Deandre Ayton has been made available for trade talks as well.

The Hurdle of CP3

It appears, at the moment, that Paul’s value is more alluding to the Wizards. While adding Ayton could entice a deal, Paul’s contract is a bit more complex.

Paul has a partially guaranteed year remaining on his deal worth $30.8 million. The deal is only fully guaranteed at $15.8 million, however. With that, the Suns would need to include more in a return for the Wizards. One work around would be a third team, but the more likely scenario would involve adding guard Landry Shamet.

Shamet is owed $10.2 million next season, with a non-guaranteed deal for the 2024-25 season. At best, his role for the Suns will be filler in any deal they facilitate. Moving Shamet into a deal with Paul would make for a more feasible trade for Phoenix.

Of course, Paul has also went on record of stating his overall goal is to remain a Sun.

An even Bigger Hurdle — Ayton

Even more than Paul, Ayton’s time in Phoenix has brought mixed reviews. After a less-than promising 2022-23 showing, Ayton being moved holds more weight than Paul.

Ayton signed a four-year, $132 million max extension with the Suns last summer. It was widely believed that from his offseason talks, the seven-footer was ready to make a massive leap.

Ayton finished last season averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game, shooting 58 percent from the field. His season average for points was a career-high, but he still possessed the mantra of lackadaisical and unmotivated as one of the premier big men in the league.

His overall play showed not a huge amount of strides from previous seasons, though his attitude would have suggested otherwise.

Moving Ayton’s contract, in one way or another, would be the best way out for Phoenix. Beal or no Beal, the Suns are already over the $162 million luxury tax, with the salary cap being set at $134 million next season.

As for the Achilles heel last season, much would be the same even with adding Beal — depth. The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets both showed a level of depth that Phoenix simply couldn’t match.

Adding Beal to the current core with Booker and Durant will bring about those same issues. The consequences could come to forfeiting their MLE for a valuable free agent. Exceeding the cap any further could turn into forfeiting over the Suns’ remaining draft capital they own.

Of course, the Suns could swing for the fences in adding both Ayton and Paul into the deal. Doing so would soften the financial blow only slightly.

Still, the bigger picture remains of what Phoenix could possibly due with so little room to work with going forward.


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