If the Phoenix Suns are going to clear cap space to add an impact free agent this summer, they'll have to cut ties with a few current players on their roster.
"Expect them to renounce their rights to center Alex Len and point guard Elfrid Payton, making them both free agents. Ayton's addition has made Len expendable, and while Phoenix still needs point-guard help, Payton's inconsistent play last season and, more importantly, his $10 million cap hold figure, likely means he's played his last game in a Suns uniform.
"Letting Len and Payton walk will put Phoenix approximately $10 million under the cap."
The Suns will have other routes to clear cap space. Alan Williams' $5.5 million contract next season is non-guaranteed, as are the contracts of Davon Reed ($1.38 million) and Shaq Harrison ($1.38 million).
It's clear the Suns want to further bolster their roster in free agency.
"We think and hope we'll add some veterans that will take us from 21 wins to whatever next year," general manager Ryan McDonough said. "... Playing with some veterans will put these guys in position to be successful as rookies and that's something we value. We were aggressive [in the draft], and we're going to continue to be aggressive as soon as free agency starts."
He added that the team was seeking an upgrade at point guard and a stretch 4. But with only around $15-20 million in cap space, that will likely take the team out of the Aaron Gordon restricted free-agency sweepstakes (with the Magic likely to match any offer anyway).
The point guard market is pretty sparse, with Boston's Marcus Smart the cream of the crop. While he isn't much in the way of scorer or an elite playmaker, his defense is superb, and he would be able to guard an opponent's best perimeter option, freeing Devin Booker from the task. Smart would be a fit, and a big deal might be enough to keep Boston from matching.
At power forward, Jabari Parker could be an interesting gamble. While his young career has been marred with injuries and two ACL surgeries, he's proven to be a dangerous offensive weapon when healthy, averaging 20.1 points in 51 games during his breakout 2016-17 campaign.
He's also a career 35.2 percent shooter from three and improved in that regard last season, shooting 38.3 percent from beyond the arc in 31 games.
It's unclear if Milwaukee will match any significant offers for Parker in restricted free agency. He would fit the mold of a talented stretch 4 to jell with the team's young core of Booker, Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges.
As for Len and Payton, neither proved to be valuable long-term fits in Phoenix. Len, 25, averaged 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the team, but with Ayton and Tyson Chandler on the roster, there's little need for Len with cheaper alternatives available to add a third-string option.
Payton, meanwhile, averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 assists in 19 games for the Suns last year after being acquired in a trade with the Orlando Magic. He shot just 20.0 percent from three with the team, however, and his 29.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc for his career has consistently limited his offensive upside.
Even for the point guard-depleted Suns, it's easy to see why Payton isn't in their long-term plans.