Suns Weekly: Payne gone, Bol in, and what draft picks do the Suns really have?

Welcome to your Phoenix Suns weekly news roundup. (Formerly called Center of the Sun)

The Suns are mortgaging their future. They have “traded” some control over their next 8 first round picks in as many as four different deals already within the last six months. Four future firsts are gone for good, while four others have been saddled with at least two pick swaps.


  • Kevin Durant (All-Star)
  • Bradley Beal (All-Star)
  • Jordan Goodwin (backup)
  • 5 second round picks


  • Mikal Bridges (Starter)
  • Cam Johnson (Starter)
  • Chris Paul (Starter)
  • Jae Crowder (backup)
  • Landry Shamet (backup)
  • Cam Payne (backup)
  • 4 picks in the first round
  • 8 first round pick swaps
  • 7 second round picks

Phew. That’s a LOT of changes. Three starters from last season, one starter from the season before, two backups and ALL those picks.

I can’t even process it right now.

Still, the Suns now have three All-Stars in the lineup, still have Deandre Ayton, upgraded their depth and will still have four first-round picks and five second-round picks in the next seven years.

Let’s get to it.


  • First? YES – least favorable of their own, Washington (if 13-30) or Memphis
  • Other? YES – Denver’s


  • First? NONE
  • Other? YES – Pelicans


  • First? YES — the least favorable of their own, Washington (if it wasn’t referred to NY in a separate deal) or Orlando
  • Other? YES — least favorable to Detroit, Orlando or Milwaukee



  • First? YES — least favorable of their own, Washington, Philadelphia (if 9-30) or Brooklyn
  • Other? YES (2) — Memphis’ AND Boston’s (if 46-60)


  • First? NONE
  • Other? YES – Memphis’


  • First? YES — their own least favorable, Washington or Memphis
  • Other? NONE

What does all this mean? This means that the Suns are betting that the next seven years will be very good.

If they make the playoffs every year for the next seven years, their own picks would be low anyway. And if they don’t make the playoffs, they’ll still get someone else’s pick in most years.

The most likely outcome, with Devin Booker still in his prime and the owner being ultra-aggressive, is that the Suns will stay good and these 2024/6/8/30 picks will be their own anyway.

The summer league!

The Summer Suns finished 2-3 last week Las Vegas Summer Leaguewith second rounder Toumani Camara finishing the week with his best effort: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks.

Camara, at just 6’8″, does not have the ideal height for the NBA power forward position, although he has a 7’0″ wingspan and a strong body (220 lbs.) that looks for contact while attacking the basket. Camara’s best attribute might have been averaging 7 free throws per game. game this week, tied for 6th in Suns SL history (and in a real stretch would also have led the NBA team in free throws per match).

He averaged more free throws per game (7.0, over 4 games) than former Suns big man prospects Jalen Smith (2.8, 4 games), Deandre Ayton (4.3, 4 games), Marquese Chriss (6.8 , 8 games), Dragan Bender ( 1.7, 15 games), Marcus Morris (4.9, 7 games), Markieff Morris (4.2, 12 games) and Earl Clark (5.0, 9 games).

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Who is ahead of Camara in career FTs per game in Suns SL history? Marcus Banks (14 in 1 game), Casey Jacobsen (10.7, 3 games), Amare Stoudemire (8.7, 3 games), Gani Lawal (8.2, 5 games) and DJ Strawberry (7.4, 9 matches). Only one real player in that group.

Camara finished his first SL stint averaging 16.3 points (10th in Suns SL history) and 7.0 rebounds (14th) on a 45/21/71 shooting split.

He won’t make any All-SL teams. Let’s just hope that with a guaranteed contract for 2023-2024, he’s at least better than guys who have to earn their NBA money on a daily basis like Ish Wainright (still non-guaranteed) and Saben Lee (two-way) . Can he beat Ish and 6th year vets Bol Bol and Chimezie Metu in minutes all season?

Here are some highlights from Camara’s last SL game this weekend.

The summer suns finished 2-3 this week. Camara and Hunter Hale were tied for the lead at 16.3 points per game. match. Hale had a good shooting week, making 52% of his threes on 7.7 attempts per game. match over the last 3 matches. He’s a bit of an undersized shooting guard (6’3”), but shot well enough in SL to at least get a look in someone’s training camp. Maybe even the Suns.


Suddenly, plenty on Sunday after a week of nothing.

  1. Cam Payne was traded into San Antonio’s cap space along with a future second-round pick and some cash. No players return. On the surface it’s a salary dump since he was only replaced with someone (Bol Bol) who makes a third of the money.
  2. Bol Bol signs with the Suns on a one-year guaranteed deal, taking Payne’s roster spot.
  3. And finally, the Suns traded ANOTHER first-round pick swap (2026) for three second-round picks. This time, it’s a secondary trade of 2026’s first for three future second-round picks.

Net result? Lower total payroll, lower luxury taxes, more second round picks to use in future deals.

Take a look at Bol’s highlights.

And now let’s take a look at the cap sheet. Your only takeaway at this point is that the Suns have:

  • 4 contracts max
  • 11 minimum contracts

Their 4th highest paid player makes $32 million this year, while the 5th highest earns $3.2 million. No other team in the NBA has as much of a drop off from one salary to the next.

And here’s the bottom line.

The Suns are now just a hair above the second apron if you only count the guaranteed money (ie only $300ki Goodwin and none of Ish Wainright).

You could conclude that the Suns could get under the other apron with a little more salary dumping on the margins. You would think they could release Goodwin, Wainright and another minimum guy and BOOM no other guise…. except that each NBA team must have 14 players on their roster during the season. The Suns currently have 15, and that 15 already includes a whopping 11 on minimum contracts. Dump any of them

Since they have already reached the extreme of 11 of their 15 players who are at the minimum level in the league and they are STILL above the second place, the only real way to lower their bill even more is to trade one of the big salaries (Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal or Deandre Ayton) for something less.

Power Rankings

Bleacher Report — Suns remain 5th in largely unchanged post-free-agency power rankings. They rank behind the Bucks, CelticsHeat and Nuggets, according to B/R’s Andy Bailey.

There are concerns about Durant’s durability going forward, but he and Booker are very much superstar talents. Despite going out in the second round, there’s still an argument that Booker was the second-best player this postseason.

If the Suns emerge from anything resembling a mess with a deeper, more well-rounded supporting cast around these two, they’ll be among the betting favorites heading into next season.

Sports Illustrated — Rohan Nadkarni also has the Suns 5th among a group of 8 contenders

As effectively as Phoenix has filled its roster with minimum contracts, I’m still not sold on the Kevin Durant-Devin Booker-Bradley Beal experiment just yet. If the team closes games with KD, Book, Beal, Eric Gordon and Deandre Ayton, who is the defensive player in that group? Who makes the hustle? Is Cam Payne really the only NBA-level point guard on the roster? Who among Payne, Keita Bates-Diop, Yuta Watanabe and Drew Eubanks is ready to be a steady performer in a high-stakes playoff series? The top talent of this team is undeniable. Still, there are too many questions to be answered before I can fully buy in.

I love Rohan, but take his words about the Sun with a grain of salt. The LA native has Lakers as a better contender and said they had a “fantastic summer” (they re-signed some guys who played well in the playoffs and overpaid another overachieving Heat point guard from a playoff run).

Rohan continues to list the Warriors as the second biggest contender for next season.

I don’t really know how to explain this other than I remain a big Stephen Curry believer. I also think Golden State is leaning into Steph’s championship window in a way it didn’t last year. Chris Paul should provide much more consistent play than Jordan Poole. Dario Šarić gives this team some front flexibility it lacked last year. And the overall commitment to the core veterans should help lighten the mood afterwards Last Dance-like cloud that hung over the 2023 team. And unlike all the West teams behind them on this list, I’ve seen a lot of this Dubs team actually win a ring together.

He questions the fit of Beal, Booker and Durant, but leans into Chris Paul’s fit with the Warriors? That’s Homerism right there, folks. Extreme homer sim.

Quotes of the week

“I want to win one this year. We don’t want to wait. We want to win one this year.” — Eric Gordon to Duane Rankin of and the Arizona Republic

“Making Suns and Mercury games available for free to all of our fans across the state was extremely important to us. It was a big priority and we got it done for our fans. We’re excited about this for our fans.” — Suns owner Mat Ishbia on making Suns games free on Arizona’s Family, channels 3 and 5, next season. The Suns haven’t been on free TV in 20 years. Suns games will now reach nearly 3 million households, almost triple what Bally Sports reached.

Many more quotes here, from Ishbia to Duane, if you pay for access. Ishbia says Isiah Thomas had nothing to do with Bradley Beal trade, but certainly seeks advice from Thomas and others Michigan State alumni like Mateen Cleaves.

Important future dates

Second week in August: NBA schedule released.

August 31: Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2023-24 salaries.

5th of September: Last day for teams to issue required bids for unsigned second-round picks; those players will become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

At the end of September: (specific dates TBA) Training camps open.

October 24: The 2023-24 NBA season begins.

This week’s poll

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