Rich Paul: Drafting Bronny James Won’t Guarantee LeBron James Re-Signs With Lakers
LeBron James, Rich Paul, Savannah James, Bronny James, Lakers, NBA Draft
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA Draft is a week away and the Los Angeles Lakers will need to decide whether or not to trade their picks for veteran help or stand pat and select a prospect to help them build for the long-term.

While No. 17 is the most likely pick to be moved in a potential deal, the Lakers also own No. 55, which most expect them to use on Bronny James. Bronny’s NBA future has been a topic of interest because of the potential free agent implications for LeBron James. So far, Bronny has worked out for Los Angeles and the Phoenix Suns and it appears that will be it.

LeBron has yet to decide whether or not he will pick up his player option for the 2024-25 season, but most expect him to decline it to sign a new deal for more guaranteed money.

The initial thought around league circles is drafting Bronny would give the Lakers the inside track on keeping LeBron, but their agent Rich Paul said that isn’t the case, via Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

“LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul told ESPN on Wednesday. “If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s no deal made that it’s guaranteed that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he [LeBron] will re-sign. If that was the case, I would force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny, and LeBron doesn’t re-sign. LeBron is also not going to Phoenix for a minimum deal. We can squash that now.

“There are other teams that love Bronny. For example, Minnesota, Dallas, Toronto. If it’s not the Lakers, it will be someone else. Minnesota would love to get Bronny in, but I don’t know who their owner is going to be. [Mavs GM] Nico Harrison is like an uncle to Bronny. If the Lakers don’t take him at 55, Dallas would take him at 58 and give him a guaranteed deal. Masai [Ujiri, Raptors president], loves him. They could take him without even seeing him at 31. Workouts aren’t everything for these teams.”

This seems to continue a trend of Paul trying to distance Bronny and LeBron’s situations while also leveraging the former’s draft standing. Although LeBron is still expected to re-sign in Los Angeles, it does cast some doubt with his future with the team if another team takes his son.

Video of Bronny James’s Lakers pre-draft workout

Bronny James has elected not to workout for several teams, but he was in the Lakers’ training facility and videos circulated of his pre-draft workout.

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