During an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Ben & Skin Show on Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, claimed that in 2007, he almost arranged a trade that would have brought Kobe Byrant to Dallas to play with Dirk Nowitzki.
Cuban told the radio show that:
“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.
Literally, in between ‘Dancing with the Stars’ practices I thought we had traded at one time for Kobe Bryant. I even talked to their owner [Jerry Buss], I thought we were going to have a done deal and then [Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak changed [Kobe’s] mind and brought him back.”
Kobe was demanding to be traded and because of that, the trade would not have involved swapping Kobe for Nowitzki.
In 2007, it was a different time for the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq was gone and Pau Gasol wasn’t there yet. Kobe was done with the, at that time, mediocre franchise. He had demanded Lakers general manager, Kupchak, trade him.
So what happened? Cuban provides insight:
“Yeah, but they [the Lakers] were smart and didn’t let it happen,”Cuban said. But Kobe was upset and he wanted out — and this was all public, I don’t think this is anything new — and the owner was resigned to that fact. I talked to the owner, and then I went back and practiced my Rumba.”
As a side note, it’s interesting to consider how important bringing Gasol to the Lakers was to keeping Kobe. Gasol marked the beginning of a successful Lakers transition, that would end with two visits to the NBA finals and two titles.
This could be connected to Kobe’s consistent insurance that Gasol would not be traded this summer, despite rumors that he would be.