Add the Phoenix Suns to the mix of teams hoping to land LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this summer.
While teams like Miami, New York, Chicago and Houston are still trying to clear salary cap space to pursue or retain just one of the superstar tandem, the Suns are loaded with draft picks and cap space that could allow them to sign both Anthony and James to long term deals, and quickly build a dynasty around the league’s best player and arguably its most versatile scorer.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Suns already have $33.5 million in cap space and could have $10 million more without trading or releasing young guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. They can also use their three first-round draft picks in 2015 to trade for more veterans or keep the roster fresh for years to come.
James, the most prized free agent come Tuesday, opted-out of his contract with the Heat earlier this week, as did teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. However, it was reported Miami’s Big Three would again sign cap-friendly deals and allow team president Pat Riley the cap space to replenish the roster.
However, the Suns are banking on James and Anthony’s friendship and a reported desire to team up since they played against each other in high school and came up in the same loaded 2003 draft class, along with the Wade and Bosh.
Anthony also opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks, and has visits scheduled with Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles. Still no team except for the Knicks can offer him a five-year $129 million max-level contract, meaning the 30-year-old forward would have to take one year and $30 million less should he sign anywhere other than New York.
Chicago has long been Anthony’s most favored destination, with center Joakim Noah reportedly recruiting Anthony since the All-Star break, and point guard and former MVP Derrick Rose expected to be 100 percent healthy after battling knee injuries for the last two years. Still the Bulls must clear cap space, and would need to complete a sign-and-trade with the Knicks in order to land Anthony, something the Knicks and team president Phil Jackson aren’t like to agree to.
Houston must also clear space, and there’s been talk of All-Star guard James Harden being shipped to New York in a sign-and-trade for Anthony.
The Lakers do have enough salary cap space to sign both Anthony and James, but they would still take a significant pay cut with Kobe Bryant taking up nearly $50 million of cap space over the next two seasons. L.A. also does not possess the draft picks like Phoenix.
Essentially, every other team but Phoenix must complete complicated moves in order to land both superstars, and the Suns managed to win 48 games in the loaded Western Conference without a top flight scorer in James or Anthony.