On the final night of Bryant’s career, Cuban revealed that he thought he had agreed on a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2007 offseason, when Bryant had demanded a trade.
“I could have sworn that we had a deal done for Josh Howard and Jet,” said Cuban, referring to Jason Terry.
Cuban said the Mavs also would have parted with draft picks and taken back at least one contract the Lakers were looking to dump.
“I was telling all the stagehands at ‘Dancing With the Stars’ it was done,” said Cuban, who was part of the show’s celebrity cast in 2007. “Then Mitch [Kupchak] or Jerry Buss or whoever talked him out of it.”
The Mavs went to the 2006 Finals and won 67 games in 2006-07 before being upset by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. A deal for Bryant would have paired him with Dirk Nowitzki, putting two of the top six scorers of all-time together during their prime.
“It would have been different,” Cuban said. “That’s all I can say. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
Bryant said on the “Grantland Basketball Hour” last year that “Chicago was my No. 1 choice” when he wanted to be traded. He added that he vetoed a deal that would have sent him to the Detroit Pistons for Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and draft picks.
“I gave you a list of teams I would be comfortable being traded to,” Bryant said on the show. “Not Detroit.”
Bryant did not mention the Mavs while reminiscing about trade possibilities.
Cuban recalled discussing potential Bryant deals with Nowitzki, who was the reigning MVP at the time. Cuban considered Nowitzki the only Mavs asset that was off limits in trade talks.
“I do remember Dirk coming to me and saying, ‘Look, if you can trade me for Kobe, you’ve gotta do it,'” Cuban said. “I was like, ‘Dirty, that’s not gonna happen.'”