The Los Angeles Lakers called the Cleveland Cavaliers about a Kobe Bryant-for-LeBron James trade in 2007, reports ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The Cavaliers quickly rebuffed the Lakers’ offer, but told Los Angeles they could have anyone else on the team in exchange for Bryant. The Lakers declined, according to the report.
In 2007, Bryant’s relationship with the Lakers was contentious at best. The team was struggling through three sub-par seasons after trading away Shaquille O’Neal, and Bryant himself had asked for a trade from the organization.
The Lakers reportedly reached a deal to send Bryant to the Pistons, but Bryant would not agree to go to Detroit. Bryant told ESPN he would have vetoed a deal to Cleveland as well.
Los Angeles almost dealt Bryant to Chicago, but Bryant balked when Luol Deng was included in the trade, believing the Bulls’ roster would be too barren when he arrived. Chicago, San Antonio and Phoenix were the teams Bryant would have agreed to be traded to, he told ESPN.
James remained with the Cavaliers until 2010, when he left for the Miami Heat. He returned to the franchise in 2014.
The Lakers would acquire Pau Gasol during the 2007–08 season to placate Bryant, and the team made three straight appearances in the NBA Finals, winning twice.
Bryant or James has played in every NBA Finals from 2007 through last year, though never against each other. Bryant will make his final visit to Cleveland on Wednesday.