The Lakers were looking to trade their starting center Vlade Divac for a player’s draft rights to free up salary cap space to make an offer to free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal. Bill Branch, the Charlotte Hornets’ head scout at the time, said that the Hornets agreed to trade their draft selection at #13 to the Lakers the day before the draft. Before the trade agreement, the Hornets never considered drafting Bryant.
During the draft, the Lakers told the Hornets whom to select minutes before the pick was made. Bryant was the first guard drafted directly out of high school. After the draft, the trade was put in jeopardy when Divac threatened to retire rather than be traded from Los Angeles. However, on June 30, Divac relented on his threat and the trade was made final on July 9, 1996, when the league’s off-season moratorium ended.
How close were the Bulls to luring Bryant to Chicago?
We were looking at houses, we were looking at schools, Bryant told the Tribune in December 2004. We already were talking about a sign-and-trade. He reiterated those words to O’Neal years later in an interview for NBA on TNT.
On May 27, 2007, ESPN reported that Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to the team with full authority. Bryant later confirmed his desire for West’s return to the franchise but denied stating that he would want to be traded if that did not take place.
However, three days later, on Stephen A. Smith’s radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers insider who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O’Neal’s departure from the team, and publicly stated, I want to be traded.
The Dallas Mavericks will retire the number 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban announced the honor in a news release. This is especially rare for a player who never wore a Mavericks jersey.