Despite looming luxury tax, Suns' owner wants to re-sign Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neale this summer

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets
Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets

Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker will combine to make just over $150 million next season. Just the three of them. The NBA salary cap for the 2024-25 season is projected to be $141 million. Add in guaranteed contracts for Jusuf Nurkic ($18.1 million), Nasser Little ($6.8 million) and David Roddy ($2.9 million) and the Suns are pushing $178 million for six players, and we don't know if Eric Gordon, Josh Okogie, Damion Lee and Drew Eubanks are going to pick up their player options. If they do, the Suns are pushing $190 million for 10 players.

The luxury tax line for the next NBA season is projected to be $171 million, which means the dreaded second tax apron would kick in at about $189 million.

Despite all that, Suns owner Mat Ishbia told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic he wants to re-sign free agents Grayson Allen and Royce O'Neal this summer.

"We're trying to win a championship and we're going to try this year and we're going to figure out how to do it next year and signing free agents is what it's going to take," Ishbia said. "Having someone's Bird rights gives you an advantage to be able to keep those players even if you're in the luxury tax. We're not frivolous with money and just spending money to spend money. What we're trying to do is win a championship and build the best team possible...

"Grayson and Royce are two great guys. Royce is new to the organization, has done an amazing job, everything you can think of, and Grayson has been here all year and has been a phenomenal part of the team and the organization. We hope and expect to have both of those guys back, along with keeping this core team together."

The Suns have the fourth-highest payroll in the NBA this season, and that has them at 37-26, fighting to stay ahead of the Kings and out of the play-in. The question for future years becomes: Is the price worth it? Are the Suns getting their money's worth on the court? This season, even 63 games in, it's hard to get a read on this team when Beal, Booker and Durant have played just 23 games together.

The concern has always been that Phoenix doesn't have enough — particularly enough defense — around its big three. That's where Allen and his shooting (47.5% from 3 this season), and O'Neal, with his versatile defense, play critical roles. The question isn't if they can help, it's whether they and other players are worth the restrictions that come with being a second apron team (no midlevel exception, have to take back matching or less money in a trade than what they send out, no adding buyout players who made more than the league average, no trading draft picks more than six years out, and the list goes on and on).

With the Suns headed to the second apron no matter what they do (considering what they pay their big three), paying to keep the guys they have that fit the system makes sense. It's just going to get very, very expensive, and it's fair to ask if Ishbia and the Suns are getting their money's worth.