The 2023 NBA Draft had one of the biggest storylines in recent memory with Victor Wembanyama coming into the league. Yet somehow, the 2024 NBA Draft may trump Wemby-mania and it won’t even involve a first-overall pick; it will involve Bronny James and whether or not he will join the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron James has not been shy about sharing his desire to play with Bronny in the NBA. LeBron smartly worked a player option for the 2024-25 season, giving him flexibility to opt out and sign with whichever team drafts Bronny.
It appears that the Lakers will do whatever it takes to make that happen with Bronny being projected to be a late first-round pick. Joe Vardon of The Athletic penned that “observers believe that the Lakers will find a way” to make sure that Bronny gets to play with his dad on the Lakers, not on another team.
When it ultimately comes down to it, though, the Lakers won’t have any control over when or how Bronny comes into the league. And quite frankly, it might not totally boil down to Bronny’s decision. Instead, it could be dictated by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pelicans may control when Bronny James can join the Lakers
The Pelicans have an interesting draft pick situation thanks to the Anthony Davis trade. New Orleans owns either the Lakers’ 2024 first-round pick or the 2025 first-round pick. The Pelicans must decide this year if they want to take the Lakers’ pick now, or if they want to roll the dice and take the 2025 pick regardless of where it falls.
That decision may dictate when Bronny comes into the league. It wouldn’t be surprising if LeBron is trying to steer him in the direction of coming to the Lakers, not just to play with him but to give him a chance to stay in LA and be with the best organization with the most resources in the sport.
If the Pelicans decide to take the Lakers’ 2024 first-round pick then Bronny may simply decide to play another year at USC. This would allow LeBron to opt into his player option, and re-work a contract the following season to either stay in LA for Bronny or leave.
With LeBron flirting with the idea of playing with Bryce James as well, this may line up perfectly for the James family. Plus, another year of college ball isn’t going to hurt Bronny, and may actually help his long-term development as a pro.
So if Bronny is set on coming to the Lakers then he has to keep an eye on what the Pelicans are going to do. Luckily, he has until 60 days before the draft to declare and by then, he will know whether or not the Lakers will have a first.