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The Blockbuster Trade That Jerry Buss Vetoed: Tracy McGrady Nearly Joined The Lakers And Created A Superteam With Kobe And Shaq

PG: Damon Stoudamire

SG: Eddie Jones

SF: Doug Christie

PF: Oliver Miller

C: Marcus Camby

With the current setup, the Raptors weren’t very good in 1997-98. The Raptors finished last in the Eastern Conference standings with a 16-66 record. That helped the team secure a lottery pick, which was used on Antawn Jamison in the 1998 NBA Draft. As for this starting lineup, it’s hard to believe that one Eddie Jones was going to raise this team from the gutter of the East.

All it would have done was set the Raptors back even further. The Raptors would have missed the playoffs and been out of a first-round pick. Granted, McGrady lasted just three seasons with the Raptors and didn’t carry the team to the heights they envisioned anyways. Regardless, it would have been foolish for Toronto to make this deal with their rebuild in full motion.

The Aftermath

The Lakers could have made the move and probably been fine. It would have potentially stunned the growth of Bryant though. Bryant was allowed to play shooting guard more often when the team dealt Jones in 1999. That freed up the spot to allow Bryant into the starting role. Still, the Lakers probably would have given Bryant minutes and the role of starting shooting guard with his tenure from last year. McGrady was talented enough to play small forward anyways.

Instead, the Lakers kept Bryant and dealt Jones in a package that helped the team land Glen Rice. With Rice on the team, it was the addition that helped the team propel to the championship level. Everyone knows how this story goes. Bryant and Shaq developed into one of the greatest duos of all time. With Shaq leading the way, the Lakers won three straight championships while O’Neal won three Finals MVPs. That also included making the NBA Finals four times together.

Once O’Neal left the Lakers, due to a dispute with Bryant, it was Bryant’s turn to lead the franchise. The Lakers eventually acquired Pau Gasol and the Lakers made the NBA Finals three straight years from 2008 to 2010. The Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Bryant finished his career with the most points scored, pushing past all-time greats in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Elgin Baylor.

As for McGrady, it took a few years for him to get acclimated to the league. In 64 games, he averaged 7.0 points in his rookie season. That number grew to 9.3 points in his second season. His best season in Toronto was in 1999-00, where he averaged 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds. When he was acquired by the Orlando Magic, he grew into a scoring champion and also took a monstrous leap to average 26.8 points per game in his fourth season.

McGrady would enjoy a successful career with the Magic and Rockets, where he was a scoring machine and All-Star. He would never make the NBA Finals but would make the Hall of Fame. The big three of Bryant, McGrady, and O’Neal is a fun thought to discuss, but it’s one that seemed unrealistic. McGrady and Bryant would have had to find a way to both coexist on the floor. Both were at their best at shooting guard and there would not have been enough shots to go around with O’Neal commanding his portion as well. 


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