REPORT: Lakers Offered Cavs Kobe Bryant for LeBron James Back in 2007
It was the summer of 2007. LeBron James was only 22-years-old and his Cleveland Cavaliers were fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in four straight.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, on the other hand, were stuck in a rut, with zero playoff series victories in their past three season–after making four of the previous five NBA Finals before that, and winning three of them. Kobe was still only 28-years-old and seemingly in his prime, coming off a season in which he averaged an NBA-best 31.6 points per game.
But with the Black Mamba growing tired of his team’s mediocrity, the Lakers were faced with two choices: Improve Kobe’s supporting case, or trade him.
Enter the Cavs, who had something that the Lakers wanted: LeBron James. And according to a report from ESPN, during the 2007 offseason, the Lakers contacted Cleveland to see if they would be interested in a Kobe-for-LeBron deal.
According to multiple sources, as the Lakers went through their options, a call was placed to the Cavs. The intent of the call, sources said, was clear: Would the Cavs make James available in a potential deal for Bryant?
Those who worked in Cleveland’s front office remember it for one reason: It was the only time a team ever called to make an offer for James. He was considered the ultimate untouchable. Frankly, until that time, so was Bryant.
In the end, the Cavs would decline, trying to trade anything else they could for Kobe, but not their prized possession, LeBron James. The Lakers also contacted other teams, including the Pistons and the Bulls, but in each case, either Kobe refused to waive his no-trade clause, or the teams failed to agree on a fair deal.
Kobe has even admitted that, had the Cavs accepted the Kobe-for-LeBron offer, he never would have agreed to waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland:
“I never would’ve approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never,” Bryant told Holmes. “That wasn’t one of the teams that was on my list. It was Chicago, San Antonio [or] Phoenix.”
In the end, no deal was made and Kobe Bryant would go on to earn MVP honors the following season. He also led the Lakers to the next three NBA Finals, winning it all in 2009 and 2010.
As for LeBron, he stuck around in Cleveland for the next three years, but he never make it back to the NBA Finals before leaving town for the Miami Heat during the summer of 2010.
Kobe’s Lakers visit LeBron’s Cavaliers tonight. If you’d like to read more about the trade that never was, you can do so at ESPN here.
Photo via Getty.