Coming off a 48 win season, in which nobody predicted, the Suns will look to take the next step into the playoffs next season. The win total is tied for the most ever by a non playoff team, as Golden State accomplished the feat in the 2007-2008 season.
The Suns are a fairly young team that should return basically every rotation player from last year. Throw in three draft picks and about $27 million in cap space, and Phoenix has some ammo to pull off a trade or get a high profile player or two in free agency.
Priority number 1 after the draft will be the extension of Eric Bledsoe's contract. He enters the offseason as a restricted free agent, and the Suns brass will match any offer for Bledsoe. Bledsoe was slowed down a bit last year as he missed 39 games due to injury. In his fourth season, Bledose averaged career highs in almost every statistical category. That was due in large part to the fact he didn't have to back up Chris Paul anymore and was in more of a feature role with Goran Dragic in the backcourt.
Dragic is also coming off a career year in which he averaged 20.3 PPG. The duo were electric at the guard positions and could be one of the most potent pairs of guards in the league for years to come. Throw in journeyman Gerald Green, and the Suns have a real good outlook at the guard position next year. Green is another guy who had a career year as he averaged 15.8 PPG this season and may have finally found a home after playing for seven different NBA teams since he came into the league in the 2005-2006 season.
Phoenix may want to address its frontcourt, and as mentioned earlier, has three first round draft picks and plenty of cap space to do so. The Morris twins, Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye and Alex Len is just not enough to get you over the hump in the Western Conference. The only player out of that equation that could test the free agent market would be Channing Frye, he has a player option for $6.8 million, so that would be hard for him to decline unless he's looking strictly for a long term deal. The Suns could always do that, and possibly pay him less for the longer deal, opening up even more cap room.
P.J. Tucker is the one rotational player who is an unrestricted free agent, but the Suns have expressed the desire to keep Tucker around, but Tucker will be a hot commodity this offseason. Tucker has revitalized his career in Phoenix the last two years after spending six seasons in Europe.
GM Ryan McDonough has made all the right moves since taking over the helm last May. He brought in Jeff Hornacek to coach, and if it weren't for the Spurs, the Suns would have had the NBA coach of the year, and the executive of the year, as Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford took those awards down.
McDonough's moves so far have all looked genius. Trading away Luis Scola for the Pacers' first round pick this year, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee looks great after one year. Sending away Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall and Shannon Brown to the Wizards for their first rounder, and Emeka Okafor's expiring contract has given them the extra first rounders as well as additional cap space. The Wizards may not even be able to keep Gortat in free agency and Marshall and Brown were waived by the Wizards before the season even started.
As for the draft and free agency, you'll have to imagine Phoenix will want to address its frontcourt in both scenarios. They'll hope to add an impact player or two with the three first rounders they have. We've heard rumors of them trying to chase Kevin Love, but so have 15 other teams. Phoenix has some of the best assets to pull the trade off, especially with three first rounders in this years loaded draft.
There will be plenty of other quality big men via free agency, as chances of landing a Pau Gasol (unrestricted), Kris Humphries (unrestricted), Jordan Hill (unrestricted), Zach Randolph (player option), Marcin Gortat (unrestricted), Andray Blatche (unrestricted), Chris Anderson (player option), Greg Monroe (restricted), could all be realistic opportunities for the Suns to grab one or two of these guys.
If they can do that, and add an impact player or two in the draft, the Suns have a very realistic chance of making the playoffs for years to come. Expect to hear a lot about the Suns the next three days as those draft picks they have will be in high demand, as numerous teams have expressed interest in trading into or up in the first round.
The Suns seem to be a team headed in the right direction, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're one of the busiest teams this offseason. And I wouldn't be surprised one bit to see them pull off a blockbuster deal Thursday night at the draft.