Pop: Spurs waited until last minute to make Leonard-Hill trade in 2011

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Lest we forget that the San Antonio Spurs - who have a remarkable track record of finding talent in the NBA draft - didn't have two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard fall into their lap, as it was a trade with the Indiana Pacers that brought him over to the roster.

The Spurs sent point guard George Hill to the Pacers in 2011 in exchange for the No. 15 overall pick (Leonard) - a deal that came down to the wire on draft night.

As head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters on Friday prior to the Spurs-Boston Celtics game, there was a certain level of hesitation on the part of the organization to pull the trigger, as Hill was one of Pop's favorite players and not an easy piece to part ways with, according to Celtics.com's Marc D'Amico.

Hill, now a member of the Utah Jazz following a three-team trade over the summer, averaged 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 231 appearances over three seasons in a Spurs uniform. Those numbers have seen a noticeable spike as the starter in Salt Lake City, putting up over 20 points per game (20.6) for the first time, along with 3.1 boards and 4.6 dimes in 33.3 minutes.

The Spurs hardly got shafted in the trade, as Leonard (25.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.2 steals this season) evolved into the Association's premier defensive wing, an NBA All-Star, an elite shooter, and the face of the franchise in a Tim Duncan-less world.

Having a guard the caliber of Hill would be most welcome right about now for San Antonio, though, with 34-year-old Tony Parker having already missed five games this season. Hill has become superior in nearly all areas, and resembles Leonard's game a great deal by being a credible outside marksman who can defend the perimeter at a high level.

The Spurs and Jazz split November's home-and-home series and won't lock horns again until the final night of the season on April 2.