Before GM Mitch Kupchak pulled the trigger on the trade to bring in Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers were on the verge of losing their best and brightest with Kobe Bryant demanding a trade.
After it became apparent to Kobe that the Lakers weren’t going anywhere and nothing was being done to change that, the perennial All-Star let it be known that he wanted out of Los Angeles.
Reportedly, the Dallas Mavericks may have been the team with the best chance of acquiring Kobe. Mavs owner Mark Cuban made an appearance on ESPN Radio recently and said he thought it was a done deal back in 2007 while he was on Dancing with the Stars via SI.com:
“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 said on the Ben and Skin Show on 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.”
If this deal had gone through, things would be much different for everyone involved and the trade would’ve drastically improved the Mavs while sending the Lakers into rebuilding mode with promising young center Andrew Bynum as the star to build around.
It could be argued that the Lakers would still be trying to recover from this deal if it had been made. The Lakers may have experienced their longest playoff drought in franchise history with an injury prone up-and-comer trying to lead the way.
Apparently, the proposed deal didn’t include Dirk Nowitzki heading to Los Angeles. It’s unclear what players the Lakers would’ve received in return, but there’s no way equal value would’ve been headed back to Los Angeles for arguably one of the greatest players of all-time.
Ironically enough, both the Mavs and Lakers went on to win championships regardless of the failed trade that somehow never leaked to the media five years ago. If the deal had been proposed or even rumored to be in the works with the fast paced social media of today, it would almost certainly be all over Twitter and Facebook with Kobe being painted the enemy in Los Angeles much like Dwight Howard in Orlando and LeBron James in Cleveland.