What started as a beautiful journey from molding a 15th pick into a Finals MVP ultimately resulted in the front office having no choice but to deal their budding superstar to avoid losing him for nothing. In the end, the Spurs ended up moving Leonard to the Toronto Raptors in 2018 for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a first-round pick that became Keldon Johnson in 2019.
Obviously, that value doesn't match what Leonard would've been worth had he stayed, as the Spurs' playoff streak likely wouldn't have ended in that case. The world knows that was never an option, however, as Kawhi and Uncle Dennis made it clear there was no turning back at a certain point.
Shortly after the deal was finalized, many fans of the Los Angeles Lakers formed a grudge that still exists to this day about it. Why? Well, there were heavy rumors that they were trying their best to form a trade package suitable for San Antonio to trade Leonard. In the end, however, the Spurs didn't go for what the Lakers were offering.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers were willing to include Brandon Ingram and a future first-round pick in a package for Leonard, but the Spurs wanted a more complete haul of young players and future picks in such a deal.
A Rockets fan creates his own narrative on the Spurs, Lakers rumors
Because there never seemed to be full details of a verified package from Los Angeles made available to the public, many have since taken it upon themselves to create imaginary scenarios that never happened. That was the case earlier this week when a Houston Rockets fan decided to chime in on the Spurs' past affairs.
"I'll say it again: San Antonio doesn't receive nearly enough backlash for choosing DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl over rebuilding around Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in the Kawhi Leonard trade," read a tweet from @BiasedHouston.
Well, you can say it 100 times, but that will never make it true. There was never a credible source that said the Lakers were offering both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in a package for Kawhi, and I'm honestly not even sure where this even came from. Still, the misinformed take received nearly 3,000 likes and 206 retweets, many with agendas similar that of this user.
In fact, this particular gentleman has been holding onto this argument for some time now, constantly bringing up how the Spurs missed out on a deal for Ball and Ingram that never existed.
What we know about the Kawhi Leonard trade that never happened
As is usually the case when the Spurs are involved, there aren't full details surrounding the package from the Lakers in the trade rumors. In addition to the previous report from Woj, he also shared more on the story in a January 2019 column:
"When Spurs GM R.C. Buford finally called back Pelinka after Leonard's springtime trade request, the Lakers were left with an unmistakable impression: Buford and Gregg Popovich would never send Leonard to Los Angeles -- no matter what the Lakers offered. The Spurs always denied any absolute "no Lakers" stance, arguing the L.A. package never captivated them."
Given this report, there are certainly two points of view here. You can choose to believe the Lakers' impression that the Spurs were never going to trade with them no matter what, or you can believe the Spurs just weren't excited about what was being offered.
In the end, San Antonio's trade has gotten a bit better over time given what they've turned some of those assets into, but they were never going to get equal value for a superstar like Leonard.
Either way, there haven't been any verifiable reports that this specific Lakers specific duo was being offered by the Lakers, so claiming otherwise is disingenuous no matter how many times you repeat it.