Devin Booker’s extension, Deandre Ayton’s free agency and more

The Phoenix Suns built off their success last season with internal improvements from their core players. They further fortified their bench and had a deep rotation in every position. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as their title chase ended prematurely to Luke Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns will be right back into the title mix again next season without needing to make too many moves. The majority of their offseason will revolve around taking care of their current players with new contracts. They’ll be limited to using the taxpayer mid-level exception to make an addition and they’ll finally enter the luxury tax for the first season of many.

Re-sign Deandre Ayton

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Phoenix’s main goals this offseason are similar to last year where they mainly needed to re-sign or extend their players. While they took care of Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Payneand Landry Shametthey couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension with Deandre Ayton. He is now set to become a restricted free agent and will be the top big man available. Their number one priority this offseason will be bringing him back.

Ayton will be eligible to re-sign with the Suns for up to five years, $ 176.9 million. That would give him a starting salary of $ 30.5 and would propel Phoenix into a luxury tax payment starting in the low $ 30 million range. He is also eligible for up to four years, $ 131.2 million either through an offer sheet or sign-and-trade to another team. He will have a qualifying offer worth $ 16.4 million he can fall back on which would allow him to hit unrestricted free agency in 2023, but that scenario is unlikely.

The full maximum salary could be a sticking point in negotiations. If the Suns don’t offer it, it’s possible Ayton receives a maximum offer sheet for them to match. Just about every team with significant cap space could conceivably have interest in him, such as the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs. It seems more likely than not that the Suns will do what it takes to keep Ayton since losing him could ruin their title odds.

Extensions for Devin Booker and Cameron Johnson

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Devin Booker finished fourth in MVP voting, meaning he will likely be one of the six guards selected for All-NBA honors this season. This would make him eligible to sign the supermax extension this offseason. It is currently projected at four years, $ 210.9 million, which would give him a starting salary of $ 47.1 million starting in 2024-25 and a $ 58.4 million salary in 2027-28. Look for the Suns to lock up their franchise player.

Cameron Johnson is eligible to sign a rookie-scale extension this offseason and his negotiations will be fascinating. Despite his limited role off the bench, he’s proven that he’s a starting-caliber forward that many teams would covet. Earlier in the season, we looked at his value and viewed Kevin Huerter’s four-year, $ 65 million contract as a potential baseline for Johnson. It’s possible that he may have surpassed that valuation with his recent play.

Jae Crowder will be extension-eligible and it’s possible the Suns could look to keep him around longer, though Johnson’s emergence and likely eventual transition to the starting lineup could complicate that. Dario Saric will also be extension-eligible but the Suns may want to see how he looks coming back from an ACL injury first.

Entrance into the luxury tax

The Suns are heading into the offseason $ 20.7 million below the luxury tax with just 9 players under contract. This doesn’t include a new contract for Ayton whose first-year salary will likely take them over the tax by itself. A maximum first-year salary would already give them a $ 16 million tax payment with just 10 players on the roster.

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That figure could rise fourfold if they maximize their spending. For example, they will have access to the taxpayer mid-level exception (MLE) projected at $ 6.4 million that they could use to add the best player available. Utilizing the MLE would increase that $ 16 million tax payment to $ 32 million. If on top of that, they re-sign JaVale McGee to the maximum $ 6 million salary allowed through his Non Bird rights, then fill out the rest of the roster with minimum signings, their luxury tax payment would reach $ 75 million.

The Suns could look to keep their luxury tax payment in the $ 30-50 million range, which has been a range of several taxpaying teams limited themselves to in 2021-22. This coming season will be Phoenix’s first being taxpayers again since 2010, and their first time since the league implemented a new tiered luxury tax system. As long as the Suns keep their core together, they are going to be taxpayers every year from here on out.

2022-23 SALARY SITUATION

Guaranteed salaries: $ 128,267,050

Non-guaranteed salaries: $ 0

Total salary: $ 128,267,050

Luxury tax space: $ 20.7 million

Exceptions:

Taxpayer Mid-level: $ 6,392,000 (assuming they re-sign Ayton)

Devin Booker

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $ 33,833,400

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 69,849,600 through 2023-24

Additional notes: If Booker doesn’t earn All-NBA honors this season, he is still extension-eligible for up to three years, projected at $ 130.7 million.

Chris Paul

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2022-23 salary: $ 28,400,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 44,200,000 through 2024-25

Additional notes: Paul’s $ 30.8 million salary for 2023-24 is partially guaranteed for $ 15.8 million and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by June 28, 2023. His $ 30 million salary for 2024-25 is non-guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by June 28, 2024.

Mikal Bridges

Mikal Bridges celebrates a play

Mikal Bridges celebrates a play

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2022-23 salary: $ 20,100,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 90,000,000 through 2025-26

Jae Crowder

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2022-23 salary: $ 10,183,800

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 10,183,800

Additional notes: Crowder is an extension-eligible starting July 14, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for up to four years, projected at $ 59 million.

Landry Shamet

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2022-23 salary: $ 9,500,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 19,750,000 through 2025-26

Additional notes: Shamet’s $ 11 million salary for 2024-25 is non-guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by June 29, 2024. His $ 11.75 million salary for 2025-26 is a team option and also non-guaranteed, and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by June 29, 2025.

Dario Saric

Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns

Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns

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2022-23 salary: $ 9,240,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 8,000,000 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Saric is an extension-eligible starting July 14, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for up to four years, projected at $ 59 million.

Cameron Payne

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2022-23 salary: $ 6,000,000

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 8,000,000 through 2023-24

Additional notes: Payne’s $ 6.5 million salary for 2023-24 is partially guaranteed for $ 2 million and becomes fully guaranteed if not waived by June 29, 2023.

Cameron Johnson

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2022-23 salary: $ 5,887,899

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 5,887,899

Additional notes: Johnson is eligible to sign a rookie-scale extension through the day before the regular season.

Torrey Craig

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2022-23 salary: $ 5,121,951

Remaining salary guaranteed: $ 5,121,951

Deandre Ayton

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Cap hold: $ 31,582,375

Type of free agent: Bird (restricted)

Additional notes: The Suns can tender Ayton a $ 16.4 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

Aaron Holiday

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hold: $ 11,941,653

Type of free agent: Bird (restricted)

Additional notes: The Suns can tender Holiday a $ 5.8 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

JaVale McGee

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Cap hold: $ 6,000,000

Type of free agent: Bird (unrestricted)

Additional notes: The Suns can re-sign McGee with his Non Bird rights for up to four years, $ 26.9 million.

Ishmail Wainright

AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill

Cap hold: $ 1,816,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

Bismack Biyombo

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Cap hold: $ 1,811,516

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Elfrid Payton

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Cap hold: $ 1,811,516

Type of free agent: Non Bird (unrestricted)

Iffe Lundberg

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Cap hold: $ 1,616,044

Type of free agent: Non Bird (restricted)

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