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Over the years, the Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the teams that has always been associated with superstars. Los Angeles is a great city to live in and the Lakers are a legendary franchise with many superstars looking to make history. Superstars like Anthony Davis and LeBron James have left their former franchises to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, and many before them like Shaquille O’Neal.
While many superstars could have played for the Los Angeles Lakers, not all of them ended up doing so. Today we cover some of the superstars who could have ended up with the Lakers in Los Angeles, but never played for them.
Five. Tracy McGrady.
via Getty Images
Tracy McGrady is known as a superstar who blossomed with the Orlando Magic, and as someone who played with Yao Ming for the Houston Rockets. McGrady was certainly an elite talent, and there have been allegations that the Los Angeles Lakers were considering trading him. Mark Stein of the New York Times revealed that there was a time when the Lakers were interested in McGrady.
“I don’t think anyone can look at an 18-year-old and say he’s a Hall of Fame member,” Harris said. “You can’t even do that with Jordan.” And Kobe was an 18-year-old in his first season. He still had a fairly normal teenage body compared to when LeBron James came along and had a man’s body.
“McGrady came in the next year with a more mature body and worked so well that Jerry thought maybe we should make a deal, whatever it takes to get two guys like that on the same team, even if it would be a step back in the short term.”
Tracy McGrady could team with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Although the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to contend three times with just Bryant and O’Neal, one has to wonder how much they would have won with McGrady in the mix.
4. Chris Paul
(via the Bleacher Report)
Chris Paul’s trade to the Los Angeles Lakers was rejected by David Stern, but Paul eventually moved to Los Angeles and was traded to the Clippers instead. You can only imagine what would have happened if one of the top players had been allowed to play with Kobe Bryant, the best shooter in the world at the time. Here’s what goalie Chris Paul had to say:
I was on the phone with my brother and my agent and everything. We were getting on a plane to New Orleans to go to Los Angeles. Let’s ….say my agent clicked, said “wait,” clicked, and then he came back, and he stuttered a little bit. And we were hot. We were hot. Kobe and I had talked, you know? We had been talking and stuff. And it was a lot. It was a lot.
Obviously, this is a huge missed opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers: with Chris Paul, they probably would have won one or two titles. Chris Paul could have helped Kobe Bryant overtake Michael Jordan in terms of titles, and maybe more.
3. Scotty Pippen
In 1999, it was possible that Scottie Pippen would move to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Los Angeles Lakers were interested in acquiring Pippen, but her contract would have taken away any future flexibility. Here’s what Jerry Bass had to say about Pippen’s move to the Lakers:
Phil was convinced that Scotty would be a great improvement for us over the next two years.
But he understands that it would be impossible to improve this team if he gave someone like Scottie a long-term contract under the current rules.
Scotty is just a great player, and it would certainly be the right thing to do for a year or two.
We probably would have done that if he hadn’t had a four-year contract.
Scottie Pippen certainly would have been a valuable asset to the Lakers, and winning more rings with the Los Angeles Lakers probably would have made Pippen’s legacy even more impressive. Pippen could have been part of two dynasties.
2nd Kevin Garnett.
(via Sir Charles)
Kevin Garnett was the MVP in 2004 and could also play for the Los Angeles Lakers. In a conversation with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the All The Smoke podcast, Garnett revealed that he would like to join Kobe Bryant before moving to Boston. Here’s what Garnett had to say:
Garnett says the situations with the Warriors and the Suns didn’t suit him. His first choice was the Lakers, he said, “I wanted to be with (Kobe Bryant),” but he said Bryant didn’t call him back.
“I yelled at Kobe for not pulling the line,” he told podcast hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. T-Lu (Tyronn Liew) and Kobe were close, and he said “pull it again and see what it says.” So I yelled again and he didn’t come back, so I had to make a decision”.
Kevin Garnett managed to win a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, but one can only imagine the havoc Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant would wreak in the league. Their fierce mentality on the court was similar, and Kevin Garnett could win at least one championship with Kobe Bryant.
1) Charles Barkley
(via NBC Sports)
Charles Barkley is best known for his time with the Phoenix Suns and the 76ers. But before he was traded from Philadelphia to Phoenix, the 76ers briefly struck a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The hypothetical deal for Barkley would have been to trade him for Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy. Here’s what Barkley said in an interview with Sports Illustrated:
Yeah. The Sixers pulled out. She had been crazy for two weeks, so I knew she was coming to Portland or the Lakers or Phoenix. One morning my agent called me and said, “Philadelphia traded you to the Lakers.” So I went to lunch and started drinking. I was so excited to go to the Lakers. Three hours later, I got a call from my agent that the Sixers were no longer on the market. I said, “Oh, S&T, I feel pretty good right now.” So I went out and I played that night.
While Charles Barkley had a good time in Phoenix and made it to the NBA Finals, it would be interesting to see what he could do as a center in Los Angeles. Perhaps he was even better with the Lakers than with the Suns.
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