The Phoenix Suns executed three separate moves on Sunday that ultimately resulted in them swapping out backup point guard Cameron Payne for free-agent big man Bol Bol, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Here are Phoenix's three moves in succession:
- Acquired three second-round picks from the Orlando Magic in exchange for a 2026 first-round pick swap. Notably, the Suns have already swapped their 2026 pick with the Wizards. The Magic will therefore gain the right to swap their own 2026 pick with the less favorable or Washington and Phoenix's picks, with the Suns automatically getting the worst of the three.
- Trade Payne, a second-round pick and cash to the San Antonio Spurs in what amounts to a cap dump.
- Using the roster spot cleared in the Payne trade, signed former Magic reserve Bol to a one-year, minimum-salary deal.
In the process, Phoenix saves more than $26 million in luxury taxes for this season. However, the on-court cost could be far greater than the names involve here suggest.
With Payne and Chris Paul gone, the Suns don't have a proven, traditional point guard on their roster. The closest they come are Saben Lee and Jordan Goodwin, who have combined to play less than 3,000 NBA minutes in their careers. On paper, this decision isn't crazy. Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant are going to do the bulk of the ball-handling in Phoenix. It likely makes more sense for the Suns to devote their two remaining starting and closing slots to defense than a table-setter. But the regular season is long and dangerous. There are going to be nights in which one or two of Phoenix's stars are out and the total shot creation available is somewhat limited.
And then there are the trade implications here. As cumbersome as Payne's salary is from a tax perspective, merely having a $6.5 million expiring contract to use at the deadline to absorb money from other teams has value. The Suns will gain a trade exception worth Payne's salary in this deal, but they cannot aggregate that exception with other salaries as they could have Payne. Outside of their big four of Booker, Durant, Beal and Deandre Ayton, the biggest cap figure on Phoenix's roster right now is the $2.8 million Non-Bird deal the Suns gave to returning free agent Josh Okogie. Unless they're moving Ayton, the Suns are going to have a hard time making trades in February.
Perhaps they don't expect to need to make February trades. The Suns have turned over all but three roster spots since opening night of last season, and with Beal, Booker, Durant and Ayton, they might have the most talented foursome in the NBA. Bol is the sort of high-upside swing teams in that position should take. Though he's never bulked up enough to successfully protect the rim defensively, Bol is 7-2 and comfortable as both a jump-shooter and ball-handler on offense. He made great strides for the Magic last season, and now the Suns are hoping he can take the next step in Phoenix. Even if he doesn't, the Suns are going to be contenders regardless of their fringe moves.