Mitch Kupchak revealed on Wednesday that the Charlotte Hornets were far closer to keeping Kobe Bryant than the public originally thought.
The Hornets had second thoughts about the trade that would have sent Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“There was such excitement around the pick that Charlotte actually didn’t want to go through with the deal,” Kupchak said. “There was a time there, whether it was Vlade (Divac threatening to retire) or just pressure on the franchise, where the deal was actually in jeopardy.”
The Hornets drafted Bryant 13th overall with the intention of trading him to the Lakers for Divac.
“There was a strong possibility then that it might not happen,” Kupchak said.
“I think we always felt that we’d get the deal done. Certainly, history would have been a lot different, at least from a Lakers point-of-view. Kobe would have been great no matter where he was.”