After all the anger and angst and fury of the immediate post-Shaq era had inspired Kobe Bryant to make a trade demand, Jerry Buss finally called his superstar guard to the owner’s home in the Los Angeles hills on an autumn evening in 2007.
The Los Angeles Lakers had found a trade for Bryant, but Buss warned him that it wasn’t to one of his selected destinations.
"Detroit," Buss said.
The Lakers had agreed to a deal to send Bryant to the Pistons and needed Bryant’s approval to waive his no-trade clause. The package included a combination of Detroit’s core players and draft picks, sources say.
Would’ve been Rip, Tay and Amir Johnson along with a future #1 for Kobe in 2007. Story is true source says
In hindsight – and foresight, but not to the same degree – that deal would have been incredible for the Pistons, who were nearing the end of their run. Bryant has remained a superstar since 2007, and alone, his presence could have extended the Pistons run of contending an extra few years.
This is also why it’s so difficult to grade general managers. Joe Dumars settled for Allen Iverson as his star trade target, and that obviously didn’t end well. But how much should we credit Dumars for nearly acquiring Bryant? How much credit does Dumars deserve – not that he’ll ever get it – if his third or fourth plans were also savvy moves? What if Iverson was his third or fourth plan? We can usually grade general managers only on the moves they make and very rarely the ones they pass up, but continually coming close helps, because eventually a good deal will come through.