It was a nice payout for Lakers star LeBron James, being granted a two-year, $85 million contract extension this week just as fellow Lakers star and protégé Anthony Davis was inking his new, five-year maximum contract with the team. The Lakers have one championship with the pair, have their eye on another and, meanwhile, everyone is getting paid.
But James also has his eye somewhere else: on 2023, which is now the year he will again hit the free-agent market and, it so happens, that James’ son, Bronny James, will graduate high school. By that time, it is possible that the NBA will change the rules around eligibility for the NBA draft and Bronny James could be a first-round pick.
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James, who will be 38 in the summer of 2023, addressed the notion of playing with his son on Monday.
“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school,” James said in a conference call, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “So I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do forward, being around my family, being around my son more or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”
Bronny James Needs More Development as a Pro Prospect
Bronny James was a freshman last year at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California, one of the top-ranked schools in prep basketball (he was a teammate of Zaire Wade, son of Dwyane Wade). James got significant exposure to scouts during that season at the school, playing in several high-profile tournaments and scoring 15 points in a nationally televised matchup against St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron—his father’s alma mater.
Still, Bronny James was last measured at 6-foot-2 and despite his obvious talent, he is not considered a surefire NBA prospect. A growth spurt would help his outlook at the pro level.
At 24/7 Sports, he is ranked as the 19th-best player in the class of 2023. He is also projected to commit to playing at Duke, coached by Mike Krzyzewski, who has become a friend of James after coaching him with Team USA twice in the Olympics, in 2008 and 2012, as well as in the 2006 World Championship.
Could LeBron and Bronny Team Up in L.A.? New York?
Of course, if LeBron James is still a star-caliber player in three years and there is the chance that drafting Bronny James will also bring his father to town, plenty of NBA teams would be lined up for that chance, even if Bronny is only a so-so-prospect.
The Lakers do have a draft pick in 2023, for the record, though the Pelicans own the right to swap picks with L.A.
Oklahoma City owns three picks in the first round of the 2023 draft, as well as the right to swap picks with the Clippers.
The Knicks, interestingly, own two picks in the first round in 2023—their own and Dallas’ pick. LeBron James has often spoken of his love of playing at Madison Square Garden and doing so as a Knicks alongside his son would have to offer some appeal.
But James does not necessarily need to team up with Bronny—two years ago, he spoke about simply being on the court at the same time as his son.
“You want to ask me what is the greatest achievement of my life? If I’m on the same court as my son in the NBA,” James said in a 2018 “Uninterrupted” feature. “That would be number one in my lifetime as an NBA player. I’ve thought about it because my son is about to be 14, and he might be able to get in there a little earlier.”