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Phoenix Suns reportedly going to re-sign Royce O'Neale - NBC Sports

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Four

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 28: Royce O’Neale #00 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of game four of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Footprint Center on April 28, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 122-116 and win the series 4-0. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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The Phoenix Suns are stuck financially, which will be a good thing for Royce O’Neale.

The Suns have $150.7 million committed next season to their big three: Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The NBA’s salary cap is expected to be about $141 million. Add in the salaries for Jusuf Nurkic ($18.1 million), Grayson Allen ($15.6 million), and Nassir Little ($6.8 million), and the Suns are above the dreaded second apron tax with just six players, they need at least eight more to fill out the roster. And with the Suns wanting to contend, they can’t just fill out the roster with minimum players, they need quality role players, and those guys cost a little more.

Enter Royce O’Neale, who played well for the Suns in his 25 minutes a night, averaging 8.1 points and 5.2 rebounds a game while shooting 37.6% off the bench (he was traded by Brooklyn to Phoenix at the deadline). He’s the kind of solid role player the Suns want to keep around, but O’Neale is a free agent and likely to get a raise off the $9.5 million he made last season.

The Suns can’t afford to replace him, and they have his Bird rights, so they are expected to step up and pay him. Brian Windhorst of ESPN discussed this on his Hoop Collective podcast.

“They’re going to re-sign Royce O’Neale. That’s going to get done.”

It would make sense for the Suns to pay O’Neale more than just market value. While that will hurt against the luxury tax, it makes it more likely the Suns can trade him for another player if needed — because the Suns are over the second apron they have to take back less money in a trade than they send out, overpaying O’Neale a little opens up the pool of players he can be traded for.

Put simply, the Suns have to re-sign O’Neale, they can’t let him walk for nothing because they can’t easily replace him. That’s going to be very good for O’Neale’s bank account.

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