The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of the most disappointing season in franchise history and are doing everything they can to make sure that history does not repeat itself next season… or are they?
The Lakers have seemingly been unwilling to include a second future first-round pick to get rid of Russell Westbrook, which could stop a Westbrook trade in its tracks. Los Angeles has more first-round picks in the future than they advertise so they certainly can do it, but they haven’t yet.
Keeping LeBron James happy should be a key motivation for the Lakers not just because of him but because of Anthony. If the Lakers do not show a commitment to winning this season then LeBron could leave, likely prompting Anthony Davis to demand out as well.
The one trick up Rob Pelinka’s sleeve to ensure that LeBron stays around is to draft his son, Bronny James. Bronny will be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft and Pelinka could promise LeBron that Bronny will be a Laker, resulting in LeBron signing on for the 2023-24 season before Bronny gets drafted in 2024.
There is just one problem with that: the Los Angeles Lakers might not have a draft pick at all in the 2024 NBA Draft because of a bad Marc Gasol trade from 2021:
Gasol did not work out in LA and to get the minimal salary relief for the 2021-22 season, the Lakers traded their 2024 second-round pick to get Gasol off the books. With the Pelicans having the option of getting either the Lakers’ 2024 or 2025 first-round pick, there is a chance that LA does not have a single selection to use on Bronny.
Trading for a second-round pick is going to be hard for the Los Angeles Lakers as well.
Bronny James is going to be an extremely interesting NBA prospect when the time comes. As it stands right now, Bronny is projected to be a late first-round, early second-round talent, especially if he plays just one year in college. Of course, he could blossom as a high school senior and in college and increase his draft stock, that is just where he is projected as it stands today.
However, every team knows that drafting Bronny means getting LeBron James for one season. For a team that is right on the edge of winning a championship that is a fantastic deal to have. Late first-round picks are often fliers anyway, so it would not be shocking at all if a team took Bronny in the 20s just so they could get LeBron as well.
That is going to make it extremely hard for the Lakers to get back in the draft and get a pick to select Bronny. Every single team in the league is going to know why the Lakers are trying to trade for a pick and they are going to leverage that against them.
Plus, any team that is open to trading a second-round pick would probably just rather draft Bronny and get LeBron for a year. Even if it is not a contending team, the ticket and merch sales alone would be worth the second-round pick.
The latest Kevin Durant report decreases the likelihood of the Brooklyn Nets trading him, which in turn is horrible for the Los Angeles Lakers.
If Rob Pelinka is going to get a pick in the 2024 NBA Draft he is going to have to do it sooner rather than later. Not only to mask the team’s intentions, but to actually be able to tell LeBron that the team is serious about drafting his son.