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Jason Kidd was almost a Laker
The trade: Jason Kidd to the Lakers for Kwame Brown, Andrew Bynum and two first-round picks.
What it meant: As you may recall, Kobe Bryant was absolutely livid that this trade didn't go down. The Lakers were floundering toward another seventh seed, which would have meant a first-round date with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns and likely a quick exit from the playoffs.
What would Kidd have done about that? Well, to be honest... Not that much.
The Western Conference was absolutely loaded in 2007. Dallas won 67 games, and five teams won more than 50. While Kidd may have allowed the Lakers to jump ahead of Denver for the sixth seed, he wouldn't have gotten them to the 53 wins necessary to pass Houston for fifth. This means the Lakers would have met eventual champion San Antonio in Round 1 and probably would have lost fairly quickly.
Where this really gets interesting, though, is what happened next.
With Brown's expiring contract gone, the Lakers would have no longer had any trade assets left to chase Pau Gasol. This means that the Lakers don't contend for a championship in 2008 or beyond without other moves, but without Bynum they wouldn't have the assets to chase any of the stars who would later come on the market.
Fast forward to 2010. Kidd may have bought the Lakers some time, but ultimately Bryant wouldn't have been satisfied with the direction of the Lakers and he would have demanded a trade, just as he did in '08.
Where would the most logical destination be?
The New York Knicks.
With many of the same assets the Knicks used to acquire Carmelo Anthony, New York would have aggressively chased Kobe. When a deal is eventually consummated, Carmelo has no choice but to accept a trade to the Nets if he wants to get to New York.
With the Nets off of the table, Deron Williams stays with Utah through the end of the 2011 season. He is aggressively shopped alongside Chris Paul, and both are eventually traded after the lockout as their original teams know they can't keep their stars.
And to think, all of this was avoided simply because the Lakers didn't want to trade Bynum.