While the team was tangentially involved in trade discussions for some big names like Kyrie Irving and Kristaps Porzingis, the Phoenix Suns otherwise engaged in a quiet summer. The team continues to be in rebuilding mode and, aside from adding a top-five pick in Josh Jackson, Phoenix seems to be ready and willing to go into the 2017-2018 campaign banking on internal development to facilitate improvements on the floor.
To that end, the Suns have a strong nucleus of young players headlined by Devin Booker, and one member of that core is 24-year-old forward T.J. Warren. On Monday, word broke from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the team and the former NC State product have agreed on a four-year contract extension worth $50 million.
On the surface (and to the casual observer), this may seem like an overpay for Warren, especially in a climate that was more fiscally responsible through most of the summer. With that said, Warren averaged 14.4 points (on 49.5 percent shooting) and 5.1 rebounds per game in 66 appearances last season and those numbers ballooned to 17.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in the second half of his third campaign.
Warren, at least at this point, is a score-first player with some room to grow in the areas of shooting range (31.2 percent in his career from three-point range) and defense, but this could be a significant bargain for the Suns. It should be noted that growth is not always linear and there is some risk here, as Warren’s current level of performance would be only quasi-acceptable on a $12.5 million-per-year salary. In the same breath, though, there is usually some projection involved when it comes to rookie-scale extensions and Warren is young enough to warrant this type of investment.
The Suns likely won’t be made (or broken) by T.J. Warren’s progress in the coming years but, with a bit of luck, this could resemble a value contract.