Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Channing Frye During 2014 Offseason

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Channing Frye During 2014 Offseason

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    The Phoenix Suns are looking to build upon a breakout season that almost resulted in a playoff berth, but they may have to do so without forward Channing Frye in the fold.

    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski cites league sources claiming that "Frye has opted out of the final season of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent."

    Per Wojnarowski, "Frye passed on his player option for $6.8 million for the 2014-15 season, which would've been the final season of a five-year, $30 million deal. The Suns were notified of Frye's decision on Monday."

    As CBS Sports' James Herbert notes: "Frye will be a valuable commodity for teams looking for floor spacing, but at 31 years old this might be his last multi-year contract. While opting out means it's possible that he won't make as much salary as he would have next season, he would make it up with a long-term deal."

    And by all accounts, he's earned that deal. Frye averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, which is pretty much on par with the numbers he's posted in each of his four seasons with the Suns.

    So who might be willing to offer such a long-term deal? A number of teams have the cap space or may be otherwise able to acquire Frye via a sign-and-trade. The other consideration, of course, is where Frye would be a good fit.

    Here's a look at his most ideal options. 


5. Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors are the kind of team that could be looking to make some additions on the periphery of their core rotation. In the event the club loses free agent Patrick Patterson, the need for a backup power forward would become all the more urgent.

    A power forward who can space the floor would be even better, pulling defenders away from the paint and allowing emerging center Jonas Valanciunas to operate from the post. 

    Toronto would seem to be a good fit for Frye, too. It's a team on the up-and-up, having proven its postseason worth in a tightly contested first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors aren't due for a rebuild, but some shrewd additions like Frye could go a long way toward helping this club reach the next level.

    Much will depend on how much money Frye wants and how much cap room Toronto has to spend. The organization could use most of its space to re-sign point guard Kyle Lowry and could also invest some additional money in his backup, Greivis Vasquez.

    Assuming there's another $5-6 million in space remaining after that (or other) spending, Frye would be a sensible target.


4. Charlotte Hornets

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    Much like the Raptors, the Charlotte Hornets are coming off something of a breakout season. After hovering at or near the bottom of the league's standings for the last couple of years, the 2013-14 campaign proved that head coach Steve Clifford's club was ready to make the right kind of noise for a change.

    That could be attractive to Frye.

    And it could be an attractive arrangement for Charlotte, too, especially if free-agent power forward Josh McRoberts doesn't return. McRoberts helped Charlotte space the floor last season by making 36.1 percent of his three-point attempts but will likely look for a raise from the $2,652,000 he made in 2013-14.

    The Hornets will have the requisite cap space to re-sign him, but they may view Frye as a slight upgrade at the spot. Frye was slightly more productive than McRoberts, but their shooting efficiency was virtually identical.

    If it came down to choosing between the two, the tiebreaker would almost certainly become price. Even though Charlotte has the resources to spend on either player, it will likely look to preserve cap space for another move or two this offseason or next.

3. Golden State Warriors

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    Given that the Golden State Warriors already have a reliable starting power forward in David Lee, Frye would likely be looking at a bench role here. Nevertheless, there's been plenty of talk about these two sides being a match.

    AZCentral's Paul Coro notes that "New Golden State coach Steve Kerr is the one who brought Frye to Phoenix in 2009 as the Suns general manager."'s Marc Stein similarly tweeted: "Upon arrival as GSW coach, Steve Kerr identified stretch four as a need. Kevin Love is obviously Dubs' dream target. But Frye on the list."

    More tellingly, though, Inside the Warriors' Diamond Leung writes that "Andre Iguodala is recruiting former University of Arizona teammate Channing Frye."

    Per Leung, Iguodala spoke to Sirius XM and said: "I’ve talked to Channing a few times. I told him how great the Bay was. I told him how his family would enjoy it. I know his family well. My family knows his family, so it wouldn’t be strangers. I would take care of him. If he needed a room, I got an extra room for him."

    Much will depend on whether Golden State succeeds in its well-documented pursuit of Kevin Love. Adding Love would make Frye's skill set somewhat redundant given that both play the 4-spot in much the same way.

    The Warriors would likely either have to acquire Frye via sign-and-trade or make some moves to clear the requisite cap room. That might mean the end of Marreese Speights' tenure in Golden State, a small sacrifice to pay for Frye's arrival.

2. Phoenix Suns

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    Opting out doesn't necessarily mean Frye's days with the Phoenix Suns are over. If he's looking for a long-term deal, he may need to look no further than Phoenix. The organization has plenty of cap space and may be looking to keep much of its core group together—especially after a campaign in which the club nearly made the playoffs in a crowded Western Conference.

    The only potential hangup is that Phoenix already has a stretch 4 in Markieff Morris, who may qualify as a younger version of Frye with a higher ceiling.

    That said, you can never have too much floor spacing. 

    The other consideration is that Frye grew up in Arizona and went to high school in Phoenix. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll offer a hometown discount, but it certainly may factor into his thinking. With the Suns' best days almost certainly ahead of them, Frye might want to stick around and watch the team grow.

    Also keep in mind that Frye has had his best years in Phoenix, averaging double figures in each of his four seasons with the team. His minutes, production and efficiency have all remained pretty consistent during that span.

1. Houston Rockets

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    It wouldn't be easy for the Houston Rockets to sign Frye outright, especially with the club attempting to clear maximum cap space in its pursuit of an additional superstar. Nevertheless, quality role players always seem to find their ways to superteams once they're already built.

    In this instance, landing Frye might require a sign-and-trade arrangement, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Houston make the effort.

    Remember that center Dwight Howard was at his very best offensively when accompanied by stretch 4 Ryan Anderson in Orlando. Frye would have a similar effect, pulling defenders away from the paint so that Howard has a bit more room to operate in the post.

    Though Terrence Jones had a strong showing for Houston from the 4-spot, he's not yet an especially dangerous long-range shooter. Even if he kept his starting job, Frye would be a valuable addition to the rotation.

    Again, the difficulty would be making the dollars work. The Rockets will be short of cap space in the event they successfully lure either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. And while a sign-and-trade would be possible in theory, Houston would have to find some way to package matching salaries to the Phoenix Suns in exchange.

    Given that none of Houston's rotation players make a salary in the $5-7 million range, that might be a tall task.

    The other alternative would be for Frye to sign a deal under the mid-level exception, but that would probably necessitate a pay cut.

    That said, if there's a way to make the money work, this could be the best fit for Frye. It would be a chance to win and allow his skills to be fully utilized.