There are no guarantees in life outside of death and taxes. Unless you’re Wesley Snipes and Cristiano Ronaldo, then apparently the taxes, at least for awhile, are optional. Sure, it’s a well known cliche, but is it one you’d be willing to gamble your future on? What about the future of the Phoenix Suns?
That’s the question Suns fans have been debating endlessly on Twitter since the Woj-iest of Woj Bombs was dropped on Friday saying that Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio. The dilemma is simple. Leonard has one year left on his contract and a player options for 2019-2020 season. He has reportedly asked for a trade and made it clear that his preference is to go to Los Angeles. So, if you’re Ryan McDonough, do you trade some of the young talent and picks you’ve accumulated over the last five dismal seasons for a chance at having a superstar on your roster even if he may only stay for one season?
Much like Kyrie Irving last summer, the answer to me seems about as simple as whether or not you should walk barefoot on the asphalt on a July afternoon in Phoenix. You don’t play the basketball equivalent of Russian Roulette after subjecting your fans to the worst eight years in franchise history.
If you hope to have a chance at landing Kawhi you’ll have to outbid the likes of the Boston Celtics. A team who is a better position to swing for the fence on a one year rental to win a title than the Suns. They also are the one team in the league with more young, quality talent and draft picks they’d be able to part with than Phoenix. In order to make a sweet enough deal to beat them you’re likely going to have to deal the No. 1 pick in the draft. That should be an absolute no go and here’s why.
Imagine a scenario where the Suns deal No. 1, T.J. Warren and salary for Kawhi. The Spurs draft Ayton and he becomes the second coming of David Robinson but with a 3-pointer while Leonard opts out after one season to join the Lakers leaving the Suns holding the bag. Not only have you made the Spurs better but in turn L.A. gets better as well and you’ve now set yourself up for another playoff drought in the desert.
It’s the doomsday scenario, sure. It’s also not unrealistic unless you get Kawhi to commit to a long term deal prior to any trade being consummated. And why would he do that? His preference for playing in his hometown has been rumored for months and the aforementioned Adrian Wojnarowski is now reporting it. When you add in the fact that he missed almost all of last season with injury the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.
Suns fans have suffered enough over the last decade. One playoff appearance in that time is simply unacceptable for a once proud franchise and everything and anything possible should be done to rectify that. But that doesn’t mean management should be irresponsible either.
McDonough and his staff have shown a patience and commitment to building this team through youth and finding homegrown stars to be the core of the next great Suns team. There’s no reason to blow that plan up for what likely equates to a hoops one night stand.
If the Suns mortgage the future and trade with San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard without any guarantees he’ll stay long term there will be something you can add to the list of guarantees in life; death, taxes and the Suns not making the playoffs for the foreseeable future.