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The NBA trade deadline wasn’t that eventful. No A-listers were moved. No jaw-dropping drama ensued. 

But after it passed, news broke of a trade attempt so big that it could have shifted the power dynamic of the league.

The Golden State Warriors reportedly reached out to the Los Angeles Lakers to see if they’d be willing to trade LeBron James in hopes of pairing him with Steph Curry. According to a report from ESPN on Wednesday, Draymond Green even got involved, urging his and James’ agent, Rich Paul, to convince James to make the move. But both Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss and James apparently weren’t interested in a trade.  

Talk about a tease.

As James and Curry prepare to share the court for Sunday’s All-Star Game, it’s hard not to think about what could’ve been. They’re the two most important players of the last decade, who’ve won eight of the last 12 championships and met in four straight Finals from 2015-2018.

James is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. And Curry is known as the best shooter ever. Pairing them would’ve been a dream for fans and a nightmare for defenses. 

It also would’ve been interesting because they share a similar sense of urgency.

Their championship windows are closing, with the 39-year-old James in season 21 and the 35-year-old Curry in year 15. And their teams are middling, with the Lakers in ninth place in the Western Conference and the Warriors in 10th. If they joined forces, they’d instantly become title favorites. 

The funny thing is, James has entertained the thought of playing with Curry before. 

Back in 2022, James was asked which NBA player he’d love to play with most in an episode of “The Shop,” and he didn’t hesitate.

“Steph Curry’s the one that I wanna play with for sure, in today’s game,” James said..”…I love everything about that guy. Lethal. When he get out his car, you better guard him right from the moment he pulls up to the arena. … You might wanna guard him when he get out of the bed. Swear to god. He’s serious.”

At the time, Curry appeared flattered, but shrugged it off as an impossibility. 

“Whenever you get the interest or curiosity of what it’d be like to play with arguably an MVP-caliber dude like he is and one of the greatest of all time, cool, it’s amazing,” Curry told 95.7 The Game in 2022. “We all can’t live in that fantasy world, though.”

Despite James’ daydreaming, it’s not surprising that when the opportunity arose to transform it into a reality, he ultimately declined, not wanting to leave Los Angeles.

He loves the city. His older son, Bronny, plays for USC. The Lakers are reportedly open to drafting Bronny next season, which would make them the first father-son duo to share a court. And ever since he put pressure on the Lakers by tweeting an emoji of an hourglass on Jan. 30, they’ve won six of their last seven games. 

Regardless, Curry didn’t appear shocked that the Warriors took their shot with James. 

“Obviously, a guy like Bron, you would probably call just to see,” Curry told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t know what the depths of the conversations were. But it was a nice little surprise this morning, for sure.”

There could be repercussions, though.

Warriors reportedly attempted to trade for LeBron to join Steph Curry | The Herd

Warriors reportedly attempted to trade for LeBron to join Steph Curry | The Herd

Green advocating for the Warriors to acquire James meant that he was willing to potentially part ways with many of his teammates. To match James’ $47.6 million salary, the Warriors would’ve likely needed to boot some combination of Klay Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga, Chris Paul and Andrew Wiggins, along with picks and young players. 

That getting leaked could obviously be a touchy subject, especially if Thompson were a part of the talks. Green, Curry and Thompson have played together for 12 seasons, winning four championships. 

For the Lakers, this news may have had the opposite effect. It helped silence questions about James’ commitment to the team ahead of his $51.4 million player option for next season. He had an opportunity to play with his dream teammate, yet he chose to remain in Los Angeles. 

So, for now, we will only see James and Curry in the same uniform if it’s emblazoned with the words “All Star.”

James’ and Curry’s paths have intersected before in serendipitous ways. 

They were born at the same hospital in Akron, Ohio, 39 months apart. And they’ve gone on to forever be a part of one another’s legacies. Curry led the Warriors past James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals three times. And James orchestrated the greatest comeback in Finals history against Curry in 2016, leading the Cavaliers to become the only team  to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the championship round. 

It would’ve been amazing watching two of the greatest rivals of the last decade join forces to create a superteam, tearing through their competition with a combination of brute force and a soft touch with endless range.

But just like we’ll never be able to watch James and Michael Jordan play one-on-one in their prime, or Curry and Magic Johnson face off to settle the debate over who’s the greatest point guard, there’s another duo we’ll always have “what ifs” about. 

What if James and Curry had teamed up late in their careers? What would’ve happened?

It appears we’ll never know.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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