Lakers are all but confirmed to draft Bronny James after latest intel

USC v Stanford
USC v Stanford / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently looking to piece together some momentum to make the NBA Playoffs and make a run similar to last season. While the players and coaches are focusing on that, the front office has to be focusing on the impending summer and all the moves that come with it.

In addition to being in the market for a huge trade this summer, the Lakers will also have to deal with conversations around LeBron James' future. LeBron has a player option this offseason with reports that he could be looking for a multi-year contract that pays him an average salary over $60 million.

Then there is the elephant in the room that is Bronny James. LeBron has made it very clear that he wants to play with Bronny in the NBA and many assumed that he would leave LA to join whatever team drafted Bronny in the first round. However, Bronny has fallen down the draft boards in his freshman season and has been projected to be taken in 2025, not 2024.

LeBron has been able to use his leverage in the NBA to get what he wants his entire career and it already looks like he and Klutch Sports are pulling some strings to get Bronny exactly where they want him. Rich Paul told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Bronny's draft decision won't depend on where he is on the big board, but on what teams specifically are interested in drafting him.

Rich Paul is already leveraging Bronny James to the Lakers

It is pretty clear what Rich Paul and Klutch Sports are doing here and it is not hard to read between the lines. Klutch (and presumably LeBron) want to use their influence to put Bronny not only in a position to succeed but in a position where he can play with his father and actually make an NBA roster.

If Bronny was not LeBron's son then it would be extremely unlikely that he would declare for the draft this year. With how he has played, he would likely go undrafted and be stuck on a G League team somwhere. From a pure basketball standpoint, Bronny would benefit from staying at USC and developing his game.

But the clock is ticking on LeBron in the NBA and if he can get his son in the door right away it could at least guarantee him a spot in the league for several years while he develops his game. This is why Bronny could still declare for the 2024 NBA Draft, even if he is not ready.

This is also a pretty clear message to other teams in the league by Paul. If you are not on the shortlist of preferred destinations, and you are the only one showing interest in Bronny, then he won't declare for the draft. This is meant to be a warning shot to small-market teams that LeBron probably won't join your team just to play with Bronny if that is the only reason why they draft him.

All of this is pretty intentional and it is clear what Klutch is doing here. Klutch is trying to use LeBron's leverage to clear the path for Bronny to be a Laker while also putting some pressure on the Lakers to follow through. Because if they don't, LeBron can simply opt out of his deal and leave LA.

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