Cohen 8-Ball: Where NBA Stars Could Have Played
June 6, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: Let’s be real; if the Lakers didn’t trade Shaquille O’Neal in July of 2004 to the Heat, Kobe Bryant wouldn’t still be wearing purple and gold. He would have stayed in L.A. but would have sported red and blue with the Clippers.
Just one day after Shaq was dealt in a blockbuster deal, Kobe decided to re-sign with the Lakers for seven years, $136.4 million. As a result of all the turmoil and friction between Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers had to support one or the other.
It came down to preserving the aging O’Neal and accepting Bryant skipping to their archrivals or surrendering the diesel and appeasing a superstar in his prime.
Cohen's Analysis: It’s often forgotten, but before LeBron James bolted Cleveland for Miami, Carmelo Anthony ditched Denver for New York, Chris Paul ducked out of New Orleans for L.A. and Dwight Howard forced his way out of Orlando it was originally Kobe Bryant that nearly demanded an exit.
In 2007 after the Lakers endured a quick exit from the playoffs, Bryant reportedly requested a trade out of L.A. He wanted to play in Chicago and was nearly sent to Detroit, however eventually Kobe backed off his demand once Andrew Bynum elevated his play and the team acquired Pau Gasol during that subsequent season.
Cohen’s Analysis: If the Celtics didn’t acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in that unforgettable summer of 2007, Paul Pierce would have probably been elsewhere before leading Boston to a title and earning Finals MVP honors the following season.
Boston finished with the league’s second worst record the year before winning the championship and Pierce made it clear if the team didn’t make a substantial offseason move he wanted out.
Well, thanks to Danny Ainge’s crafty front office work, he got his wish and backed away from his trade threats. One rumor at the time that was legit was Pierce going to the Grizzlies in exchange for Pau Gasol.
Cohen’s Analysis: Blame his girlfriend at the time, teammate David Robinson or anyone else who helped prevent Tim Duncan from becoming best friends with Micky Mouse.
The future Hall of Famer was on the verge of uniting with Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in Orlando during the summer of 2000. By all accounts, Duncan was extremely intrigued about leaving the Spurs for the Magic.
Ultimately, though, those closest to Duncan influenced the greatest power forward ever to stay in Texas.
Cohen’s Analysis: Tony Parker’s Spurs had just defeated Jason Kidd’s Nets in the 2003 NBA Finals, but that didn’t stop San Antonio from pursuing Kidd in free agency that summer.
At the time there was no comparing Kidd, who was in his prime and a perennial MVP candidate, and the young but blossoming Parker. Kidd eventually declined San Antonio’s five-year, $80 million offer to stay in New Jersey.
Kidd’s wife influenced the decision many believe. Though the Spurs claim Parker would have still fit in even if they landed Kidd, it’s obvious Tony would have had to resurrect his career elsewhere.
Cohen’s Analysis: From that extraordinary block on Carmelo Anthony in Game 6 of the East Semis to his down low dominance against the Heat in the conf. finals, Roy Hibbert just skyrocketed his status around the league.
However, if Indiana didn’t match Portland’s four-year, $58 million offer this past summer, who knows what Hibbert’s standing would be right now.
The Blazers wanted Hibbert to team with LaMarcus Aldridge for the long haul and help that franchise forget about past big men that never lived up to expectations (ex. Sam Bowie, Greg Oden).
Cohen’s Analysis: The Pelicans are relieved David Stern stepped in and blocked the Chris Paul-to-Lakers deal. The Clippers are enchanted as well. As far as the Lakers; well, things just haven’t been the same since then. Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season Stern denied a deal that would have delivered Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Lamar Odom to the then-Hornets.
If that trade were not rebuffed, N.O. likely wouldn’t have been bad enough to get the No. 1 pick last year (Anthony Davis).