In what can only be seen as the biggest NBA trade that never happened, there is now a report saying that the L.A. Lakers once looked at trying to trade Kobe Bryant to the Cleveland Cavaliers for LeBron James. Obviously, nothing ever came of it, but it’s interesting to think that this is a trade that was ever even discussed at all.
— ESPN (@espn) February 10, 2016
It’s the ultimate “What If?” in the world of trades that never happened, but it’s interesting to now know that this was at least discussed. Things are made even more interesting that this information is coming out now, in the middle of Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season.
According to ESPN, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, have confirmed that it was the Lakers who first reached out to the Cavaliers back in 2007. The Lakers reached out to Cleveland to see if the Cavs would be willing to make James available in a possible trade that would include Bryant.
It’s known that at the time in 2007, Kobe Bryant had two more seasons on his deal with the Lakers, but he was not happy with the organization. After Shaquille O’Neal had been traded away, the Lakers hadn’t been successful in three seasons and it was getting to the star.
Bryant was 28-years-old at that point in the summer of 2007, and he wanted there to be some change. Not many now know that the Lakers actually inquired of helping Bryant make that change by sending him to Cleveland if the Cavs would be willing to trade LeBron James.
LeBron James was just 22-years-old at the time and was coming off of an NBA Finals run with a team that gave him very little help. Two years later, he won his first MVP of the league, but he had three years remaining on his deal with the Cavs at the time.
From that point, there was the move to South Beach, a few years spent there, and then the return to Cleveland.
As HNGN reported, the main differences between the two at the time was their age and the experience advantage that Bryant had over James. Their numbers were quite similar, and there’s no way to think that either team would lose with one player or the other.
Kobe Bryant had three championship rings and had averaged 32 points-per-game the past season. As for LeBron James, he was just in the NBA Finals and had almost averaged a triple-double during the season with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists-per-game.
Word has it that this is the first time the Cavaliers had received any kind of call with a trade offer for LeBron James.
It’s hard to imagine how the conversation went down when the Lakers reached out to the Cavaliers about the possible trade. One was the best player in the entire NBA, and the other was the future of the league.
When all was said and done, the Cavaliers let it be known to the Lakers that LeBron James was the one-and-only untouchable they had. The Cavs did counter-offer the trade proposal, and reportedly offered anyone else on their team in a package for Kobe Bryant, but the Lakers weren’t biting.
Kobe Bryant had a no-trade clause in his contract, and he said that even if the Cavs had agreed to the deal, it wasn’t going to happen.
“I never would’ve approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never. That wasn’t one of the teams that was on my list. It was Chicago, San Antonio [or] Phoenix.”
A deal with the Chicago Bulls was discussed, but the summer of 2007 was nearing its end and the proposed trade was not approved by Bryant.
As the present now shows, a proposed trade between the L.A. Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James didn’t happen. It was presented in the summer of 2007, and the Lakers did reach out to the Cavs about it, but it merely wasn’t meant to be.
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