Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 2/18/13
Back in 2007 there were rumblings that the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers had discussed a trade involving Kobe Bryant. Turns out, that deal was much closer to becoming a reality than just about anyone realized at the time. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski revisited those potentially game-changing trade talks in a piece up Monday, following the passing away of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Per Wojnarowski, the Pistons and Lakers had a trade in place for “a combination of Detroit’s core players and draft picks” in exchange for Bryant. Why’d Kobe say no? “It hit me that I didn’t really want to walk out on Dr. Buss,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. And in case you’re wondering what exactly we’re talking about here, the Detroit News’ Vincent Goodwill confirmed a 2007 report that indicated the Pistons were more than prepared to dismantle their nucleus. Would’ve been Rip, Tay and Amir Johnson along with a future #1 for Kobe in 2007. Story is true source says — Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) February 19, 2013 Sources called it a “done deal” before Kobe and Dr. Buss killed it — Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) February 19, 2013 The Pistons made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005-06, ’06-07 and ’07-08, following their shocking championship in 2004-05. But their third straight conference finals loss in 2008 convinced GM Joe Dumars to head a different direction — he traded Chauncey Billups for Iverson early in the 2008-09 season and, after limping to a 39-43 finish and first-round exit, the Pistons have not been back to the playoffs since. Billups’ career has hit roadbloacks, most notably a torn Achilles, during his current time with the Clippers, while Hamilton, on the downside of his career, is a bench player in Chicago. Johnson averages 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the Raptors. None of that compares to Bryant’s continued excellence, of course. And there’s no telling how the Pistons’ future would have changed if Bryant had been added in with Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Jason Maxiell, Rodney Stuckey and others. It stands to reason that the Pistons would not be buried in the long-lasting malaise they’re stuck in at the moment. What might have been …
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