Will Caron Butler trade allow Suns to waive Michael Beasley?

USA TODAY Sports

Michael Beasley could be on his way out the door now that the Bucks have lowered their payroll by trading Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Phoenix Suns traded one of their few vested veterans late Thursday night, deciding to send Caron Butler to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Ish Smith and Slava Kravtsov.

The move put the team in a bit of a precarious situation now that they have 17 players with at least partially-guaranteed contracts on a 15-man roster, but removing Michael Beasley from the equation could make the situation a bit more palatable.

Beasley is now the fourth-highest paid player on the Suns roster and the $6 million he's owed is actually a decent deal considering he was the NBA Draft's second overall pick not that long ago. Issues with marijuana and a lack of production on the court have clouded his future, however, and it seems like the Suns might be better off just eating the remaining $9 million they owe him.

It wouldn't be the easiest move to make considering it would mean that the new front office would have to pay $9 million for Beasley not to play for them, but the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro mentioned that as a possibility when running down potential options to get to the 15-man roster limit.

Some roster decisions are ahead for the Suns with 17 players under guaranteed contracts once Len signs. They can carry a maximum of 15 players on the regular-season roster but the futures of Beasley (expected waiver) and Channing Frye (resolution of heart issue follow-ups) remain in the air.

Beasley averaged a career-low 10.1 points per game last year while shooting just 40.5 percent from the field, but off-court issues are the reason the Suns might seriously consider cutting the swingman just one year into his three-year, $18 million contract. Beasley was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession earlier this month -- not the first incident with him and the recreational drug -- and it didn't help that the arrest came not long after his name appeared in a sexual assault case.

If the Suns feel that Beasley isn't worth his salary ($6 million this season, $3 million guaranteed next season or $6.25 million if he's not waived by June of next year), the team has two options -- as long as one assumes they won't be able to trade him for any sort of asset, anyway.

Phoenix could outright cut Beasley, taking the salary cap hit over the next two years and getting him off of their books as soon as possible. If the Suns make the decision to remove Beasley from their roster before Sept. 1, however, they could use the "stretch provision" and owe him just $1.8 million over the next five seasons. That would lower the cap hit and their initial out-of-pocket costs, but it would also mean they're paying Beasley in 2018 due to issues that happened in 2013.

Following the Butler trade, however, they're probably better off just cutting bait and taking the loss over the next two seasons.

The Suns removed $5.65 million in guaranteed salary with the Butler trade and, thanks to the rebuilding process that already saw them move some hefty contracts, Phoenix has plenty of room under the salary cap anyway. That makes the removal of Butler's contract less likely to be about cap room and more about clearing enough payroll to be able to pay off Beasley quick when considering the less than half-million dollars that separates this season's salary and the cost's cut with the Butler deal.

It's not a foregone conclusion that Beasley is cut by the Suns and, even if they do, they could still use the stretch provision to take a lesser cap hit over the next two seasons by stretching the payments into five years. With Butler's salary clearing room and the Suns remaining in full rebuild, though, it seems likely that Beasley will be getting $9 million over the next two seasons not to play in Phoenix -- and a "good riddance" from the new front office to boot.

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