The Los Angeles Lakers Once Attempted To Trade Kobe Bryant For LeBron James

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The Los Angeles Lakers Once Attempted To Trade Kobe Bryant For LeBron James


Kobe Bryant spent his entire 20-year NBA career playing with one team—the Los Angeles Lakers. But there were quite a few times when the Lakers legend was in the strange position of almost getting traded to another team. A 2016 piece by Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that the Lakers called the Cavaliers in 2007, to make a blockbuster trade centered around their best players.

It wasn’t all fun and games for Kobe and the Lakers franchise. After the Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat in 2004, the team failed to form another championship caliber team and suffered a considerable amount of losses. The team didn’t make the playoffs the following year and was eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the next two years. These circumstances took a toll on Kobe to the point that he requested a trade from the Lakers front office.


“At that time, the Lakers had to do something. I was just losing faith in what they were trying to do. It was like I was a meal ticket,” Bryant told ESPN in 2016 when asked about that time period. “You come out and score 40, 50 points, fill the seats, we’re going to keep the payroll at a minimum, generate revenue. It’s like, look, listen, I am not with that, dude. I have to win without Shaq. I’ve got to do it. We’ve got to do something.”


Mitch Kupchak who was the general manager of the Lakers during that time, attempted to call different teams to explore options for Kobe. One of these teams were the Cleveland Cavaliers—a franchise that was starting to build a legitimate contender around their best player, LeBron James, who was only 22 at that time and just came off a Finals run.

The trade would’ve sent Kobe Bryant to the Cleveland Cavaliers for LeBron James. However, the Cavaliers made sure that LeBron was considered untouchable. The trade was then countered by the Cavaliers and didn’t include their best player, this time, the Lakers didn’t want to buy in.

If the trade however had progressed, Kobe, who had a no-trade clause in his contract, would’ve shut the deal down, no matter what.


“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.”


LeBron also had the opportunity to talk about the trade call in 2007 that would’ve sent him to the Lakers.


“I believe it,” James told ESPN in 2016. “If you give up one big fish, you got to get a big fish, too.”


No trade had gone down, and the rest was history.

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