The Suns front office will hit the phones at midnight on July 1. (McPeek/Suns.com)

The Suns front office will hit the phones at midnight on July 1. (McPeek/Suns.com)

At 12 p.m. ET tonight, the free agent-market floodgates will burst open and the Suns front office plans on being among the teams who plan to have a raft as the waters spill forth.

The reel they are planning to cast is the direction of Grant Hill. The Suns co-captain appeared in all 82 games this past season, averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game as a starter and shot over 50 percent from the floor for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr made it perfectly clear since the conclusion of the season that signing Hill was the franchise’s first priority.

“We’d like to re-sign him and we have our eye on a few other free agents as well, but obviously we’re a year away from being able to spend any money,” Kerr said. “He’s a huge part of our culture here I think he’s one of our leaders he had a great year last year and I think he’s got a couple good years left in him. We’d love to have him back.”

Kerr is planning on meeting with Hill at his house in Orlando on Wednesday. Besides securing the services of the seven-time All-Star, the Suns will also be likely be angling towards signing a couple post players due to the departure of Shaquille O’Neal.

Some big men that may be of interest to Phoenix are Rasheed Wallace, Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess and former Arizona product, Channing Frye. All of them are unrestricted free agents beginning July 1.

High-priced free agents such as Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, Hedo Turkoglu and Lamar Odom are expected to sign with either their own teams or with teams with extensive salary cap room such as Detroit, Atlanta and Portland. Due to economic conditions and high payrolls, it’s expected that teams aren’t going to spend as easily and readily as they’ve done in the past on free agents.

But this type of situation could prove to be advantageous for Phoenix and Kerr is well-aware of that fact.

“There are going to be some bargains and we’re usually a destination for players,” he said. “People want to play in Phoenix, they want to play with Steve Nash, they want to play up-tempo and we think we’ll have an opportunity at a few free agents that could really help us without breaking the bank. That will also allow us on our path towards flexibility next summer.”

Financial flexibility next summer would allow Phoenix to be a major player in the most coveted free agent pool in recent memory. Besides LeBron James, that list of potential unrestricted free agents includes Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tyson Chandler, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Redd.

In the meantime, Kerr, Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin and Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry all will begin working the phones at 9 p.m. Phoenix time tonight. With the floodgates open and teams unwilling to pay, who knows what type of big fish the Suns might be able to catch?

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