The inevitable departure of their star is a moment every team fears. It means the end of an era, and usually kicks off an age of rebuilding. The dreaded moment comes for all, and the Spurs are no exception. Although defying the normal pattern of NBA basketball, it seems, after 20 long years, the time has finally come for the San Antonio Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard wants out, and their options are weighing thin as Kawhi enters the last year of his contract. The situation is irreparable, the Spurs don’t have much leverage, and the franchise is headed for its uncharacteristic downslide. What most don’t know, though, is that the Spurs almost kicked off this rebuild early by sending Kahwi packing for a promising young New Yorker:

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, San Antonio was intrigued by the potential of a Kawhi for Kristaps Porzingis swap. The emphatic ESPN analyst reported this on the air about a year ago.

“Guess who the San Antonio Spurs called?” Smith said. “The New York Knicks. They said they were willing to move Kawhi Leonard and clean house.”

“But then they stepped back from it and changed their minds.”

“I got it confirmed a few minutes ago.”

The Knicks apparently made Porzingis available leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft. And while there wasn’t a whole lot of activity regarding any trade talks, it must have been enough to intrigue the Spurs into trading Kawhi for him.

Alas, the Spurs backed off, changed their minds, and decided to go ahead and keep their franchise star.

Still, what does it say that a team as respected as the Spurs almost gave away a Top 5 talent in favor of a full rebuild? More importantly, what must it have said to Kawhi and his representatives, considering the situation they now currently face?

Also, who’s to say that the Spurs’ interest in Porzingis has disappeared completely? Maybe he’s still someone they’d be looking to deal for…

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