Thunder could be a real threat to steal LeBron James from Lakers

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers
Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

LeBron James has a big decision ahead of him this summer as he has a player option and can leave the Los Angeles Lakers after six seasons with the team. LeBron reportedly wants to sign an expensive new deal with the Lakers, but other factors could lead him to find greener pastures in 2024.

The biggest variable that will decide LeBron's future is his son, Bronny James. LeBron has not been shy about his desire to play with Bronny in the NBA. Bronny can declare for the 2024 NBA Draft and Klutch Sports is already trying to use LeBron to leverage Bronny's future, saying that whether or not he declares will depend on what teams are interested, not where he ranks on the big board.

This could be an obvious message to the Lakers and an attempt to force Bronny to LA this summer. However, there are other teams that could be on Bronny's perceived wishlist, including one team that may have seemed impossible a year ago: the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LeBron James leaving the Lakers for the Thunder could be a real possibility

Under normal circumstances, a player like LeBron James would never opt out of a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, these are not normal circumstances, and LeBron has different motivations.

The two most important things to LeBron right now (basketball-wise) seem to be playing with his son and contending for a championship. While he will demand as much money as he can get, he is in a unique position where he can afford to take a pay cut if he can check the other two boxes.

The Thunder have the potential to check both of the boxes. The team has three picks in the first round this year with limited roster spots. If any team can leverage a late first-round pick solely to sign LeBron it is the Thunder. With so many other selections, and limited space, why not use the Clippers' first-round pick to draft Bronny and lure LeBron to OKC?

The team is also one of the best in the league and a veteran presence like LeBron would push them over the top. OKC is already a premier title contender in the league. If LeBron came and essentially took Josh Giddey's minutes then they would become the toughest out in a playoff series in the entire league.

OKC is also projected to have just over $40 million in practical cap space and don't have to pay anyone this offseason. While the Thunder may not be able to offer LeBron a supermax, the team can offer him a two-year, $80 million contract with a player option for year two. That is certainly on the table and still gets LeBron paid a big salary.

The city of OKC might be a bit small for the superstar of LeBron James, but the Thunder are one of the best teams in the league in developing young players. It is the perfect blend of a great situation for LeBron and Bronny in the short term, as well as a great place for Bronny to develop long-term.

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