Chalk one up for confirming what many of us already assumed to be true.
On Sunday evening's episode of The Grantland Basketball Hour, special co-host Kobe Bryant fielded a handful of email questions regarding his illustrious career. One of the more intriguing queries: "Did you really squash your own trade to Detroit in 2007?"
"That is true," Bryant asserted.
When pressed by hosts Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, Bryant revealed the primary suspects supposedly involved in the deal at the time included Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and a bevy of draft picks.
So why didn't this thing happen?
"I gave a list of teams I'm comfortable being traded to," said Bryant. "That wasn't one of them, so no."
To those who've closely followed Pistons trade rumors over the years, this may not be a new revelation. Suspicions of a near Kobe Bryant-to-Detroit deal have existed since 2007. Then in 2013, an article by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski clearly alluded to a deal proposed by then-Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
However, last night's airing marked the first time Bryant himself came to the forefront to confirm that he did, in fact, have an opportunity to join the Detroit Pistons but ultimately shut that idea down.
So, just to play the game for a moment, what would a Kobe Bryant-led Pistons team have looked like in 2007-2008? Well, without knowing whether a Bryant deal would have spurred another transaction to replace Prince at small forward, or whether Bryant would have been willing to shift to the three and allow a young Arron Afflalo to start at the two, things could have shaken down like this:
PG - Chauncey Billups
SG - Kobe Bryant/Arron Afflalo (if Bryant slid to small forward)
SF - Jarvis Hayes
PF - Antonio McDyess
C - Rasheed Wallace
On paper, it's not a starting unit that blows us away upon first glance. Perhaps Bryant understood that trading places with two members of Detroit's vaunted starting five would not benefit the Pistons nor himself in the long run.
After Bryant passed on the trade, the Pistons advanced to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Boston Celtics in six games. The Lakers, meanwhile, would acquire star power forward Pau Gasol midway through the 2008 season and advance NBA Finals where they, too, would lose to the Boston Celtics. However, Bryant and the Lakers would then win back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 and 2010.
As for the Pistons? Following 2008's deep run, they'd return to the playoffs in 2009, only to be swept in the first round by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have not made a playoff appearance since.