Suns free-agent options not limited to Plan A-plus

Veterans Pau Gasol and Luol Deng could be potential free-agent targets of the Suns if the price is right.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Plan A is a doozy.

In fact, the Suns’ reported strategy for seizing the jackpot during the NBA’s 2014 Free Agent derby is optimistic enough to be considered Plan A-plus.

But until a substantiated report of LeBron James reciprocating the Suns’ interest in hiring him surfaces, let’s try to remain calm.

While we’re at it, a look at a few Plan-B considerations should be in order a few hours before the free-agent clock strikes midnight.

OK, with the Suns vowing to keep restricted Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix, we’ll continue to consider that the primary act of July housekeeping.

There’s also strong interest in bringing back restricted free-agent P.J. Tucker and unrestricted Channing Frye, but their Suns futures could be determined by what happens elsewhere.

With management conceding more talent is required to boost a rising Suns team above 48 victories and into the Western Conference playoffs, we have a strong idea that not all of the improvement will be organic.

More Suns

Among the unrestricted free agents that make sense (from a tactical standpoint), most of the national gossip connects the Suns to small forward Luol Deng and veteran post operator Pau Gasol.

Deng hits the market after finishing his prior contract as a Cleveland Cavalier. That didn’t go well, and the Cavs now have a sharp-dressing Canadian kid ready to take those minutes (they call Andrew Wiggins a guard, but . . . hey).

Anyway, during his miserable turn in Ohio, Deng provided 14 points per game but shot a chilly 42 percent from the field and 10 percentage points less than that from behind the 3-point arc.

Now 29 years old, Deng is playoff-tested and has been quite good at guarding some of the nasty small forwards currently roaming the Eastern Conference. With those two-way chops and an offensive history that suggests resurrection in Coach Jeff Hornacek’s system, he’d help make the Suns better.

But how much would the Suns be willing to cough up to have him?

According to various salary-related forecasts, the market for Deng could be $10-12 million per season. That seems a bit steep for what he’d provide. Then again, Goran Dragic reaching third-team, All-NBA for $7.5 million is an aberration.

Another unrestricted three man with skills and market value similar to Deng’s at the same age is Washington Wizard Trevor Ariza.

History lesson

Ariza, rumored to be a target of what would be a reconfigured Miami Heat, is a priority re-signing for his current team.

Another unrestricted three man with a real portfolio is Houston Rocket Chandler Parsons. Parsons, a former second-round pick who made slightly less than $1 million last season, didn’t have his option picked up by the Rockets.

He averaged 16.6 points per game, mixing in some effective dribble penetration to augment a pretty decent touch (37 percent) from outside.

The Rockets, as you’ve probably noticed, again are trying to go big in free agency. But with it looking very much like the James gang could stay together in Miami and Carmelo Anthony not exactly a Houston lock, the Rockets should still have the resources, schematic fit and interest in re-signing Chandler.

Among the restricted free agents who play small forward we find Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz. Hayward, whose efficiency dipped this season when asked to take on greater responsibility, was a developmental student of Hornacek and has been a rumored Suns priority since Hornacek was hired here.

Hayward gave Utah 16.2 points per game but made just 30 percent of his shots from 3-point range; that’s an 11-percent dip over the previous season.

Over the weekend, a Jazz beat reporter dropped some Twitter information regarding an upcoming, big-money offer from the Suns. Like the Suns with Bledsoe, the Jazz are attempting to scare off suitors for Hayward by making it known they’ll match anything.

The price tag to lift Hayward out of Utah also seems pretty steep.

If the Suns fancy a low-post scoring upgrade while Alex Len is making his NBA bones, they certainly could do worse than Gasol.

Well, that’s as long as veteran Spaniard is willing to work for a lot less than the $19.2 million the Los Angeles Lakers coughed up last season.

Although the Gasol rumor parade has him teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, brother Marc in Memphis or old pal Phil Jackson in New York, Phoenix would seem to be a strong landing spot.

Surrounded by the Suns’ current list of shooters and penetrators, Gasol – who’ll turn 34 later this season – could feast on the scraps. Playing 60 games for the hapless Lakers last season, Pau averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds but made less than 50 percent of his shots for the second consecutive season.

Although he’s listed as a power forward in the FA roll call, Gasol would be working at center in Phoenix and wouldn’t be asked to space the floor, as often was the case playing for Mike D’Antoni in Los Angeles.

If the Lakers are forced to dust off Plan C, Gasol could stay put, too.

A younger, restricted low-post free agent is Greg Monroe, who might get away from the Detroit Pistons if he’s handed a terrific offer sheet. His max range from another team would reach $60 million over four years; it has been reported the Pistons may pass if that occurs.

While navigating a lane with teammates Andre Drummond and Josh Smith, Monroe provided 15 points and also 10 rebounds as a 23-year-old.

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