Jonquel Jones is a superstar and an unrestricted free agent. The Connecticut Suns need to do everything they can to keep their reigning MVP.
Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones make up the rest of the Suns’ Big Four, all of whom are under protected contracts. Connecticut doesn’t have to worry about going out and trying to build a super team. It already has one with these four. The Suns were certainly the best team in last year’s regular season and were almost entirely without Thomas. With her, they would be even more dangerous.
After a 2019 Finals appearance, the Suns finally saw their Big Four come together in the playoffs, in the absence of Devana Bonner, who was still in Phoenix at the time, which may explain their inability to overcome a tie with the Washington Mystics and the 2020 semifinals, Jonquel Jones’ absence as a COVID precaution may explain their lacklustre performance against the Las Vegas Aces.
In the most disappointing playoff experience of the trio, the Suns were eliminated in the 2021 semifinals by eventual champion Chicago Sky. That was after they recovered from a loss in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship as a dominant team that seemed to have a title.
Free Agent (Type) (Average Salary)
- Brian January (unlimited) ($121,500)
- Jonquel Jones (unlimited) ($190,550)
- Stephanie Jones (reserved) ($58,710)
Total average free agent salary: $370,760
Total Team Salary: $873,716
Cap space: $505,484
Jonquel Jones obviously deserves the super because she’s the best player in the league. The sun can give her the core, which will give her super cap and ensure her return to Connecticut.
As for Briann January, if the team only gave J. Jones a small raise of $351 and didn’t keep a first- or second-round pick, her salary could be the same as last year. That’s also considering it won’t trade Natisha Hiedeman, Kaila Charles, and/or DiJonai Carrington to back up the bare minimum it can give players. It seems unlikely that the Suns will replace these players when their retention costs are modest.
A salary cut is possible in January, but $37,193 must be taken if J. Jones receives a supercap and all other players stay. And J. Jones is 28 years old and has never received an over-the-top contract before, so she’s unlikely to sacrifice salary for January, she’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and brings veteran leadership , but now at 34, not a huge offensive factor. January still has a lot to offer, and could have implications for another team that pays her more.
It’s fair to say that J. Jones got the supermax, while Hiedeman, Charles and Carrington stayed. That leaves $78,472 to $84,307 for Connecticut to pay the 11th player, depending on whether they keep the 12th overall pick, the second-round pick or the 10th player with the lowest player. If the No. 11 player isn’t January, it could be someone like Shavonte Zellous ($70,040 in 2021), who is currently in that salary range and probably won’t appeal to many teams that want to give her a big raise. Young players like Lexie Brown and Lindsey Allen ($70,040 in 2021) will ask for raises, but if Connecticut can afford them, they’re both guards, so they could fill in in January. Brown has shown a lot of promise with Minnesota in 2019. The Suns could also bring Rachel Banham’s 3-point threat back to Connecticut. But Sophie Cunningham ($58,710 in 2021) might be the best option if they can afford her.
Jordin Canada ($70,040 in 2021), an excellent passing point guard who can definitely replace January’s defensive ability, will definitely be out of Connecticut’s salary range.
The Suns will likely only have 11 players, not 12. Without trading Hidman or Charles, they’d have to not give J. Jones a raise, let January or some sort of steady free agent go, rather than keep a first- or second-round pick to get to 12.
* All salary figures are from the table her basketball stats