Suns to explore No. 1 pick for Leonard

With the news breaking Friday that Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded by the San Antonio Spurs, pretty much every team in the league is coming up with the best trade package they can offer to the Spurs for the All-Star small forward.

Leonard reportedly has his eyes on the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Spurs are under no obligation to send him where he wants to go. San Antonio’s main focus should be getting the best return possible for Leonard.

The Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers are the four main teams expected to pursue Leonard, per multiple reports. Besides the Lakers, any team trading for Leonard is running the risk of having him as a one-year rental. Leonard will be a free agent in the summer of 2019 and most likely won’t commit to a franchise long-term unless he gets his wish and ends up with the Lakers.

But because Leonard is such a transcendent talent, some teams might be willing to take that risk of giving up a lot to acquire a possible one-year rental player with the hopes ownership can convince him throughout the year to stay, and one of those teams could be the Phoenix Suns.

According to a report from The Ringer, executives around the league anticipate Suns general manager Ryan McDonough to probe a Leonard deal using the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. Phoenix would most likely need to include second year forward Josh Jackson and another one of their young assets to acquire Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and a Finals MVP.

The Spurs will probably get a bunch of lowball offers for Leonard initially. Per the Ringer’s report, San Antonio will drag out this whole ordeal as long as they can to drive up the price.