The summer of 2007 was the summer of Kobe Bryant’s discontent.
Since the Lakers had traded Shaquille O’Neal they had not put new pieces around Kobe that could help win a title, and Kobe let the world know. He asked for a trade, he pressured management, he ripped Andrew Bynum to random guys with a video camera in a parking lot.
And the Lakers did have serious talks with Dallas about a trade, Mark Cuban confirmed while on ESPN Radio in Dallas, as transcribed by the Dallas Morning News. Things were so serious that Cuban — who was doing Dancing With the Stars at the time — thought it would get done.
When I was doing Dancing with the Stars, I was taking breaks because I was talking to Kobe’s agent because Kobe wanted to get traded,” Cuban explained on the Ben and Skin Show on 103.3 [KESN-FM]. “Literally, between Dancing with the Stars practices I had thought we traded for Kobe Bryant. I even talked to their owner and thought we were going to have done deal, and [Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak changed [Kobe’s] mind and brought him back.”
Not sure if the Los Angeles Lakers would’ve taken Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Devin Harris, Erick Dampier or Josh Howard in return but Cuban assures that Dirk Nowitzki was not in the deal.
“It wasn’t Dirk for Kobe,” Cuban said before admitting that the Lakers were smart by not letting it happen.
While the Lakers were exploring, I’m not sure they were as serious as Cuban thought, I’m not sure they ever would have traded Kobe until their hand was forced (ie. he could leave via free agency, the way Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard gained leverage to force a trade). Kobe is too valuable to the Lakers brand.
It’s moot. At the next trade deadline the Lakers swung a deal for Pau Gasol and went to the next three NBA finals, winning two. And Kobe was happy again. A couple years later, the Mavericks and Cuban would get their rings, too. You just wonder if there would have been more with Kobe.