The Cleveland Cavaliers had no intention of engaging in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers on exchanging LeBron James for Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers went through some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the 2000. After starting the decade off with a 3-peat, manned at the helm by two generational superstars in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal seemed like it set the right tone for how they would want the rest of their decade to commence forth.
However, following the publicized turmoil that was present within the Lakers locker room in those years, the purple and gold knew they had to side with either Kobe Bryant or Shaq when it comes to retaining a franchise star. They eventually let Shaq walk to the Miami Heat where he won another title alongside Dwyane Wade.
Kobe, now alone on the Los Angeles Lakers as its sole superstar, grew tired of carrying an entire franchise on his back, treading the line between being a Playoff team, and obscurity.
Kobe Bryant demanded a trade away from the Los Angeles Lakers
With no real superstar help by his side from 2004-2007, Kobe took it upon himself to unleash a scoring barrage on every defense he faced, night in and night out. His usage rates were off the charts as he took 25-30 shots a night, as he knew he couldn’t count on his teammates to generate an elite offense.
Though he broke several scoring records and put up otherworldly numbers, he knew his talent was being wasted on a team with no championship aspirations. In an effort to not waste his prime, he demanded a trade away from the Lakers.
The Lakers, knowing they could get a fortune for perhaps the best player in the league, opened up trade talks with a bevy of teams. They were hesitant to part ways with him but knew they could not hold onto a disgruntled superstar for long. Kobe expressed his desire to join the Chicago Bulls, but the Bulls did not have an attractive enough package in exchange for him.
In a shocking turn of events, the Lakers reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to hopefully talk about their superstar, LeBron James.
The Cleveland Cavaliers did not want to trade LeBron James for Kobe
LeBron James who was fresh off a Finals runs with a team almost as disappointing as the one Kobe was surrounded by, and was looking to run it back with this late 2000s Cavs squad. At merely 22 years of age, James had already achieved more than most NBA players dream to achieve in a span of a decade.
It was clear LeBron James was a generational talent, and it was only right to trade a man of that caliber for a man of Kobe’s caliber. However, the Cleveland Cavaliers immediately shut down any trade talks surrounding the ‘King’. The Cavs made it very clear that they wanted no parts of a James trade, regardless of who was on the other end of the trade package.
It all worked out fine for Kobe Bryant in the end as he was paired up alongside Pau Gasol. He would go on to win 2 more titles with Pau, and a much-deserved MVP.