How the Clippers may ultimately help the Lakers keep LeBron James this summer

The Los Angeles Lakers will do anything possible to please LeBron James. The team can do that with Bronny James thanks to the Clippers.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 offseason is an extremely important one for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only is the team tasked with hiring the next head coach to lead the franchise, but Los Angeles is also at a crossroads with LeBron James. LeBron has a player option this summer that he will cash out with to secure the last big payday of his career.

While the Lakers should be considered the perennial favorites to keep LeBron, as we have all learned with the NBA, anything can happen. If there is a better place to win that also pays him well and is willing to draft his son, Bronny James, then the NBA's all-time leading scorer very well could pack his bags.

The Lakers have a long history of catering to the team's superstars so it still feels like LA is the most likely landing spot for Bronny. Thankfully, the Lakers have two picks in the 2024 NBA Draft at their disposal, one of which is from the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers' second-round pick may be key to the Lakers retaining LeBron James

The Lakers have the 17th and 55th picks in the 2024 NBA Draft. Los Angeles kept its own first-round pick after the New Orleans Pelicans predictably opted to pass on this year's pick in favor of next year's pick. The Lakers' own second-round pick (No. 48) is going to the San Antonio Spurs while the 55th pick originally belonged to the Clippers.

Without this second-round pick, it would be much harder for the Lakers to bring Bronny in. The team could trade for a second-round pick on draft night, sure, but every team the Lakers call would know exactly why they were doing it.

This would have given the Lakers zero leverage in trade talks, resulting in the team getting raked over the coals to get Bronny to LA. Of course, the Lakers could have utilized the 17th pick to bring in Bronny but is seems more likely that the team will use that to trade for help (another move to make LeBron happy).

Thanks to the Clippers, the Lakers actually have the means to draft Bronny. As sweet as it is that the Clippers are inadvertently helping the Lakers, it is even sweeter considering the trade that netted the Lakers this pick in the first place.

The Lakers acquired this pick as part of a four-team trade during the 2023 trade deadline. Thomas Bryant was shipped out to Denver and Patrick Beverley was traded to the Orlando Magic. In return, the Lakers received Mo Bamba (from Orlando), Davon Reed (from Denver) and two second-round picks from the Clippers. The Clippers traded those picks to Denver, who rerouted the picks to the Lakers, for Bones Hyland.

So the Lakers can please LeBron and keep him in Los Angeles because the Clippers wanted Bones Hyland. For those keeping track at home, Hyland averaged 6.9 points while shooting 38.6% off the bench for the Clippers last season. He played 12 total minutes for the Clippers in the playoffs.