LeBron James’ future with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly could be tied to the NBA future of his son Bronny, with the superstar possibly interested in signing somewhere for less money if they can play together on the same team.
“What happens if Bronny James is drafted in June?” wrote NBA insider Marc Stein. “LeBron’s 19-year-old son, in the midst of his freshman season at USC, has not yet announced whether he plans to enter the 2024 NBA Draft or play another season at the collegiate level. But if Bronny does choose to enter the June draft and if he’s selected somewhere in Round 2, as would almost certainly happen in a worst-case scenario, how does Dad react?
“I know of at least two teams on the NBA map that believe LeBron James would consider signing with them at far less than $51.4 million if Bronny James is on the roster. There might be more.
“Should the Lakers be ultimately faced with that turn of events, they will be doubly glad that they kept their only available first-round pick that could have been traded in-season. The increased optionality they’ll now have in June will certainly come in handy if they suddenly have a LeBron-sized hole to fill.”
The elder James has a player option worth more than $50 million in his contract for next season. The younger James has time to declare for the 2024 NBA Draft or could return to the University of Southern California or transfer elsewhere to continue playing college basketball in the 2024-25 campaign.
The younger James had his collegiate debut delayed after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a practice in the summer. He has recovered to appear in 16 games so far and could decide he needs a bit more experience before entering the NBA.
Former NBA All-Star Baron Davis recently said he believes that the younger James playing with his father “will do nothing but help him.”
In his 21st season in the league, the elder James remains one of the best players in the league. He is averaging 24.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game in 48 appearances. Despite those statistics, the Lakers have hovered around the .500 mark all season and are in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 28-26 record entering play Monday.
They did not make a major deal at the NBA trade deadline last week despite a report that the elder James wanted the team to be aggressive in making moves. They were able to add Spencer Dinwiddie after he agreed to a buyout with the Toronto Raptors following a trade by the Brooklyn Nets.
With Anthony Davis having an excellent season and D’Angelo Russell showing markedly improved play recently, the Lakers could be contenders for another championship. One executive from the Western Conference reportedly would be fearful to face them in the playoffs.
But if the Lakers fall short of the postseason — or have a short run if they get there — it could sour the elder James on the future of the franchise. He then may choose to play with his son elsewhere instead, which would satisfy a dream he has expressed in the past.