Though Kobe had a no-trade clause, the Lakers explored other options.
According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event, the Lakers once contacted the Cavs to investigate whether Cleveland would make James available in a possible Bryant trade.
The Cavs said that James, indeed, was untouchable, sources said. Then they attempted to make the Lakers a different offer for Bryant, offering anyone else on their team in a package for him. The Lakers had no interest.
For Bryant, who had a no-trade clause in his contract, the answer was simple.
“I never would’ve approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never,” Bryant told Holmes.
This is just as the LeBron-Kobe arguments were kicking into gear. Regardless of which player was better at the time, LeBron – six years younger – was definitely more valuable than Kobe.
So, it’s unsurprising the Lakers asked and even less surprising the Cavaliers said no.
And even less surprising than that was the Lakers rejecting Cleveland’s counter offer. Here were the other Cavaliers during the 2006-07 season:
- Larry Hughes
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
- Drew Gooden
- Sasha Pavlovic
- Donyell Marshall
- Anderson Varejao
- Damon Jones
- Daniel Gibson
- Eric Snow
- Shannon Brown
- Ira Newble
- David Wesley
- Scot Pollard
- Dwayne Jones
That scrap heap doesn’t come close to Kobe.
The what-if of a LeBron-for-Kobe or Kobe-for-other-Cavs swap is intriguing, but both ideas were non-starters for at least one side. None of that came close to happening.
But, nine years later, that barely makes the discussion less fun.