Kobe Bryant having issues with his role wasn’t unusual. Former coach Phil Jackson gave insight into one instance that almost led to a trade.
It wasn’t a secret that Kobe Bryant frequently clashed with Phil Jackson about his role with the Los Angeles Lakers. Sometimes these feuds even caused Bryant to explore the possibility of a trade. Jackson spoke to Charley Rosen of Today’s Fastbreak about one particular circumstance.
According to Jackson there was a a potential blockbuster swap on the table during the 1999-00 season that would’ve sent Bryant to the Detroit Pistons in return for Grant Hill.
“Kobe was only averaging about 19 points per game,” Jackson said. “So Kobe called Jerry West and wanted to know how Jerry and Elgin Baylor both averaged 30 points. Kobe also said that he wanted to be traded. Of course, Jerry told me about the conversation. And, for a few minutes I thought about taking the Pistons up on an offer they made to trade Kobe for Grant Hill. Make that a few seconds.”
The trade sounds ridiculous now. The Lakers won the championship that season and Grant Hill is not Kobe. However, Grant Hill was an All-Star during ’99-’00 who looked like he was on the path to greatness. He actually had a better season than Bryant.
This wasn’t the only time Kobe almost became a Piston.
In 2007, after the Lakers went 42-40 and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs Bryant requested a trade.
Bryant told Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose that the trade involved Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and draft picks. Due to Bryant’s no-trade clause the Lakers needed his approval and he wanted no part of going to Detroit.
The Lakers responded to Bryant’s anger by trading for Pau Gasol and starting another dynasty.
Kobe nearly changed NBA history twice. Instead the Lakers responded to both of his threats with championships.