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Suns had 26.4 million reasons to trade Cam Payne

Cam Payne in his Suns uniform

Jan 22, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center guard Cameron Payne (15) against the Indiana Pacers at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns have hit the reset button at point guard this offseason.

The Suns started their offseason by swapping Chris Paul for Bradley Beal. They then doubled down on the PG revamp by trading away CP3’s longtime backup, Cam Payne, on Sunday.

Payne was virtually dumped in a trade to the San Antonio Spurs. Phoenix needed to attach a second-round pick and cash to serve as the sweetener in the deal.

From a basketball perspective, it’s a pretty surprising move given that the Suns no longer have a true point guard on the roster sans CP3 and Payne. Phoenix will reportedly rely on Beal to serve as the team’s starting point guard. The rest of the potential backcourt rotation features Devin Booker, Eric Gordon, and Damion Lee — none of whom are considered true point guards.

However, the Payne trade makes much more sense for Phoenix from a salary cap perspective. ESPN insider Bobby Marks shed light on the $26.4 million in savings that the Suns will benefit from in the deal. The team’s luxury tax bill will drop significantly from $79.5 million to $53.1 million once the trade is made official.

The NBA salary cap next season is set at approximately $136 million. The Suns are already paying about $162 million in salary for just four players in Beal, Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Kevin Durant next season. The total for those four alone is already just a few million shy of the $165 million luxury tax line.

With draconian penalties for teams in the luxury tax tucked into the new NBA CBA, it’s no surprise that the Suns chose savings over point guard stability.

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