the day before the draft
The Lakers were looking to trade their starting center Vlade Divac for a player's draft rights to free up salary-cap space to make an offer to free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal. Bill Branch, the Hornets' head scout at the time, said that the Hornets agreed to trade their draft selection at #13 to the Lakers the day before the draft. Before the trade agreement, the Hornets never considered drafting Bryant. During the draft, the Lakers told the Hornets whom to select minutes before the pick was made.