Kobe Bryant had a legendary career with the LA Lakers. Things were not always great in LA, though, as Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007. While many people know that Bryant almost went to the Chicago Bulls, Mark Cuban recently revealed that the Dallas Mavericks also almost acquired Bryant in a trade.
Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007
The LA Lakers were absolutely dominant with Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal from 1999-2000 through 2003-04. The Lakers went to four NBA Finals in five seasons during those years, winning three consecutive championships from 1999-2000 through 2001-02.
During those seasons, Bryant scored 26.2 points per game for the Lakers to go with 5.3 assists and six rebounds. He was also remarkable in the playoffs. He averaged 29.4 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in the 2000-01 playoffs and 32.1 points per game in the 2002-03 playoffs.
However, in the summer of 2004, the Lakers traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat. This led to the Lakers missing the playoffs in 2004-05 and then losing in the First Round in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Then, in 2007, Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers. According to Sports Illustrated, the Lakers reportedly reached a deal to send him to the Detroit Pistons, but Bryant wouldn’t agree to go to the Pistons.
The Lakers also almost sent Bryant to the Chicago Bulls, but when Luol Deng was included in the trade, Bryant reportedly believed that the Bulls’ roster wouldn’t have been strong enough, per Sports Illustrated.
Mark Cuban reveals that the Dallas Mavericks almost traded for Bryant
While recently appearing on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and The Three podcast, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed that the Mavs almost traded for Bryant in 2007.
“We had one deal, I thought we had traded for Kobe,” Cuban said. “I thought we had a deal for Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and a couple firsts, and I worked it out with Jerry Buss with the Lakers and we had agreed upon it. Dirk [Nowitzki] calls me and goes, ‘Look, if you need to trade me for Kobe, I would make that deal in a heartbeat.’ I was like, ‘No, that’s not going to happen.’”
As you can assume, the deal ultimately didn’t work out.
“It obviously fell apart,” Cuban said. “Jerry West called Kobe, and said, ‘You can’t do this.’ … So, he killed the deal.”
The Dallas Mavericks could have been dangerous
Bryant stayed with the Lakers, and it ultimately worked out. The Lakers ended up acquiring Pau Gasol, making three straight NBA Finals appearances from 2007-08 through 2009-10, and winning back-to-back championships in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
However, had Bryant gone to the Mavericks, they would have been extremely dangerous. The Mavericks had just gone to the NBA Finals in 2005-06 and then won 67 games in 2006-07. Dirk Nowitzki was ultimately one of the best players in the NBA too. In what would have been the first season with Bryant (2007-08), Nowitzki averaged 23.6 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.
The Mavericks also won a championship in the season after the Lakers’ last title, as Nowitzki led them to an NBA Finals win over the Miami Heat in 2010-11.
Everything ultimately worked out for Bryant and Nowitzki. Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and is in the Hall of Fame. Nowitzki will be in the Hall of Fame once he is eligible. However, the Dallas Mavericks could have won many more championships than just the one had Bryant actually gone there. Instead, we are all left to wonder what could have been.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference